Mother fights for best care for handicapped teenage daughter

VANCOUVER – Acknowledging that a child has turned into an adult is difficult for most parents, but it’s proving especially hard for one mother.

Her daughter is severely handicapped.

When the teenager has her 19th birthday next week, she will be forced to move from where she currently lives to an adult facility. Her mother says the big transition is going to be a big problem.

Christina Bartel is 18-years-old. She is deaf, blind and has the mental capacity of a two-year-old. A few years ago, she moved into to a facility where she receives full-time one-on-one care.

“I want her to stay with the company, with what’s become family, with people who have known her for ten years minimum,” says her mother Heather Mason.

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But next week, Christina turns 19, and government policy dictates she has to move to an adult facility, despite the fact that in every way, she is still a child.

“I am scared that she’ll die. They don’t know the tell-tale signs of how she gets sick, when she is going to get sick, they don’t have the same nursing care.”

Christina won’t eat or take medication when stressed or around strangers. And, at the new facility, nurses only work until 5 o’clock in the afternoon.

Her birthday also triggers a move out of the care of the Ministry of Children and Families and into Community Living BC, which is overseen by a completely different ministry.

“I feel like I’m getting kicked right in the pants. It is like Happy Birthday, see ya later, have a good one,” says Mason.

Still, Community Living BC insists her severely disabled daughter must move. The minister responsible for CLBC Harry Bloy was unavailable for comment.