Teresa Pocock’s family is shining the light on how the Ontario government is putting individuals with developmental disabilities into long-term care facilities.
Pocock’s sister says she was forced into one, after a social worker declared her “incapable” of making her own decisions.
“We have really put a concerted effort into raising awareness, because Teresa is not alone,” Franke James said.
She’s right: Pocock is far from alone.
Since the province closed down institutions a decade ago, a lack of residential placements and community supports has resulted in individuals who are developmentally delayed being moved into seniors’ homes.
“They’ve become dumping grounds, sadly,” said Patricia Spindel, an expert in Community Health and Developmental Services.
There are more than 2,918 individuals with developmental disabilities currently living in long-term care homes.
Of those, more than half (1,651) are under 65 years old, and three are either under 18 or their age is unknown.
“People get forced into them because of a lack of resources, then the government says they ‘chose’ the facility,” Spidel said.
The province’s minister of health said last year the government committed $810 million for people with developmental disabilities, which helped create 1,400 new beds in group homes and residences.
Asked if he was OK with the number of people who have developmental disabilities still living in long-term care homes, Eric Hoskins said it depended on the individual’s level of functioning.
“For the vast majority of cases a long-term care home is not an appropriate placement,” he added.
As for Pocock, she and her family have asked for an apology.
Hoskins provided Global News with a statement:
“I would like to apologize to Ms. Pocock and her family for her being placed in a seniors residence.”
James said the family really appreciates the apology.
“It’s a tremendous, wonderful, landmark event for an important human rights story,” she said.
She’d still like the Ministry of Health to acknowledge a mistake was made in declaring Pocock incapable in the first place.
Pock turned 52 years old Friday.
“The minister’s apology is an amazing birthday present,” said James, adding that since Pocock moved to Vancouver with them, she’s blossomed.
“She did not belong in a nursing home, and it was a violation of her human rights to put her there.”