HALIFAX – Police say a resident at a Lower Sackville facility for people with intellectual disabilities and other complex needs was arrested earlier this week for allegedly assaulting four staff members.
RCMP spokesman Corporal Greg Church says the 38-year-old resident at Quest was arrested Tuesday night. The man is expected to face charges when he appears in provincial court next month.
Church said the resident was arrested without incident and there were no injuries.
“The complainants did not receive medical attention. EHS was not called to the scene,” Church said.
The man was returned to his room at the 16-bed Community Transition Program. The facility is operated by Capital Health and the Quest Society.
Advocates for people with intellectual disabilities said changes need to be made to how these types of situations are handled.
Brenda Hardiman, founder of Advocating Parents of Nova Scotia, said more emphasis needs to be placed on the health of the patient.
“This is a person that has special needs. He’s not going out robbing liquor stores and planning criminal activity,” she said.
“It’s a health issue and needs to be dealt with that way, as a health issue and not a criminal issue.”
“Punitive charges are made to show citizens what’s right and wrong and for them to learn from it,” said Cindy Carruthers, spokesperson for People First Nova Scotia.
Carruthers said taking a patient through the justice system may ultimately do more harm than good.
“It would actually go against any planning or programming or advancement that they may be making in dealing with their own behaviours and getting proper supports. It could actually be detrimental to that plan.”
Hardiman said the institutional model of provincial facilities is not working.
“We need to place these people in small options environments where there’s only two to three people, where staff can monitor their moods and what they’re doing more closely. When you have 15 to 18 people on the same floor with different personalities and different things going on, staff can’t track what’s going on,” she said.
However, a spokeswoman for Capital Health says staff do everything they can to cope with aggressive outbursts and only call in police as a last resort.
Scott Theriault, clinical director for the Department of Psychiatry for Capital Health, said charges are considered on a case by case basis.
“When you would charge somebody would depend on the particular client involved, their mental state at the time. It would include consideration of what degree of harm or not occurred. Of course, we’re interested in maintaining the safety of our staff so we would support staff themselves if they wish to pursue charges,” Theriault said.
He adds that the facility may look at revising the programs and plans for the patient.
Quest is already going through a review process after the death of a 56-year-old resident following a scuffle.
– With files from Canadian Press