How Do We Ensure that People with a Disability Really Have a Choice?

bigstock_Good_Better_Best_Choices_-__C_14588495I came across an article in the B.C. Times Colonist about a mom and her 19 year old daughter who reside in British Columbia, Canada.  The article tells the story about how the BC government is reducing support hours for a young woman with disabilities, because her mother rejected a group home offer from Community Living B.C.

Margaret Lavery passed on the offer for her daughter, Katrina, because she felt it could emerge as a possibly unsafe living situation.  Her concerns are that Katrina’s freedom may taken away because she would be prevented from moving freely in her wheelchair or would have her movements constrained in order to prevent contact with a resident who is “potentially aggressive”.

Local politician, Rob Fleming, has been assisting the family for over 6 months is not impressed the the government’s “hardball” stance.  He describes the government’s decision as “punitive” and “inappropriate.”   I wonder, “Where is the consideration for Katrina’s personal outcomes and for what is best for her?”  I further ponder, “Is this what we do to people and families when they advocate for safety, quality and a good life?”

In addition, and a point that must be made, is that taking away someone’s freedom is a subtle form of abuse, in particular for someone with a complex disability and who is not able to assert on their own.

A statement of values and principles for supporting people with a developmental disability in British Columbia cannot be found on the government website.  Perhaps this might be a good starting point.

Since 2004, the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services has been working on a Transformation For Developmental Services . The goals of this transformation are independence, inclusion and choice for all people with developmental disabilities in Ontario and specifically objectifies that “we provide more choice and flexibility to individuals and families in choosing the services that best meet their need.”

Despite this commitment in Ontario, the reality is that thousands of people remain on a wait list for support funding. Where to live, who to live with, who supports you, employment, volunteer opportunities and advancing personal goals, the very things that have been promised,  personal choice remains absent.

The truth is that there are a lot of people with a developmental disability and their families who have been disillusioned by the lack of  personal choice and give up on standing up for what they want.  I applaud Margaret Lavery for standing firm for what is best for her daughter and for not giving in to anything less.

I continue to wonder, “how do we ensure choice for people with a developmental disability and their families?” 

I look forward to your ideas.

Times Colonist article can be seen  at:

2016-12-14T14:05:27-05:00April 20th, 2016|

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