"So many dreams at first seem impossible. And then they seem improbable. And then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
~ Christopher Reeve

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Two Fer

Just a heads-up in case anybody missed it - I will be giving two presentations (hence the title of this post) at the Keshman Goodman Library (330 Lacewood Drive) in Halifax this Saturday (November 26th). The first  will be on the Henson Trust and it's use in Nova Scotia and the second (much longer) presentation will cover Supported Decision-Making and Legal Guardianship in Nova Scotia.

I've written extensively about both these topics on the blawg so if you're a wee bit confused (or simply don't have the energy to plough throw the myriad of posts), this will be a good chance to either learn it from scratch or have your questions answered.

The show starts at 1:30 and I look forward to seeing you.


Incidentally, there's no cost for this event, which is being graciously hosted by HACL.

Please RVSP by calling the Halifax Assoociation for Community Lirving @ 463-4752 or email Yvetter or Lisa at famsupporthacl@eastlink.ca. 


Monday, November 21, 2011

Guilty As Charged

I am sad to say that I am equally at fault here.
Perhaps even more at fault, given my personal connection* to this issue.

You see, although I recall hearing about the release of the Braemore Report on the radio (and equally recall my bestest intentions to get a copy of the report and write a blawg post), once again, life got in the way.

But fortunately it's not too late.  Not for me. Not for you.

Let's make sure it's not too late for them.
Dear Families, Friends and Members of NSACL

In October, 2011 the Department of Community Services released a long awaited Operational Review of Braemore Home in Sydney, Nova Scotia. This review came about after findings of abuse related to a 21 year old resident with Autism. Two days after the release NSACL along with our National Association, CACL released a press release, which has to date not been picked up by the media. We need to bring this review and our concerns to the media. The same week this review was released the news of the Ship Building contract was announced and it is believed that the review and its findings got lost. WE CAN’T LET THIS HAPPEN

I am attaching the Braemore Review...please read it... please also be prepared to read some very distressing and disturbing information. I am also attaching the addresses of Minister Denise Peterson –Rafuse and Premier Dexter in the hopes that you will write a letter in regards to the review. I am also including how you can get in touch with the Chronicle Herald’s letter to the Editor department. Letters to the editor: email letters@herald.ca And lastly I am attaching our press release.
  • We need to let people know that this is not acceptable, not now, not ever and certainly not one more day. This is not what we want for our sons, daughters or family members.
  • Nova Scotians should be outraged that persons with disabilities are being abused in institutions.
  • Nova Scotians should be outraged that institutions exist in this province, there is no place in Nova Scotia for institutional services for persons with intellectual disabilities. Regardless of degree of disability or complexity of needs, all are equally entitled to community based support. 
  • NSACL’s position paper on Deinstitutionalization is also attached to this email.
Please write letters to the editor, letters to the Minister of the Department of Community Services, the Premier and your local MLA’s. We cannot let this go unnoticed...we need to have a strong voice.

Thank you in advance for bringing attention to this matter. If you wish further information please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

Jean Coleman,
Executive Director
Nova Scotia Association for Community Living
22-24 Dundas Street, Suite 100 Dartmouth, NS
B2Y 4L2
469-1174
nsacl@accesswave.ca
Braemore Home Operational Review
Braemore Press Release
NSACL Position Paper on Deinstitutionalization


Honourable Darrell Dexter                 424-6600                     424-7648                premier@gov.ns.ca  
Premier, Office of the Premier
7th Floor, One Government Place
1700 Granville Street
P.O. Box 726
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 2T3

Honourable Denise Peterson-Rafuse    424-4304                  428-0618                   petersdj@gov.ns.ca
Department of Community Services
8th Floor, Nelson Place
5675 Spring Garden Road
P.O. Box 696
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 2T7

We know what we need to do. 
Now are we up for the challenge? 

* I have a sister-in-law residing in Braemore.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Note to Self ** ... And Small Kudo to Gov't

** Please try to remember to post relevant happenings when they actually happen.
Province Expands Program for Families Supporting a Child with a Disability
More Nova Scotia families caring for a child with a disability will soon have help thanks to a $1.3‐million provincial investment.
The Department of Community Services is expanding the income eligibility guidelines for the Direct Family Support for Children Program to support more children with disabilities who live at home with their families.
"Families want their children to stay at home and in their communities," said Community Services Minister Denise Peterson‐Rafuse."This investment is making life better for families, and shows our commitment to improve services for persons with disabilities and their families."
Effective Dec. 1, the amount a family can make and be eligible for the Direct Family Support for Children Program jumps from $47,000 to $72,000, after taxes. More than 80 additional families will now have access to this funding, which helps with costs for things like transportation, medication and respite when a break is needed. The amount of assistance a family receives varies depending on their income, assessed need for respite and family size.
. . . .
Government has increased investments in programs for persons with disabilities by $19 million since 2009, bringing the annual budget to nearly $255 million.
My apologies, I fully intended to post this the day it was announced, meaning it is now over a week old.

Still, better late than never, right?

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Voice in the Wilderness

Following is a copy of my presenataion at the recent CACL Conference, part of multi-person session on supported decision making. As the above title implies, I was the sole person questoning how well this concept might actually work.

A good discussion followed in which some of concerns were discussed and explained. Some to my satisfaction and others less so. Such is life.

Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away (in other words, before I had a child with a disability), I was involved with grassroots political lobbying for children in third world countries. Doing that work, I became very attached to a quote from Stephen Lewis, Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations at the time, to the effect that the day would come would societies would be judged not by their industrial or economic output, but by how they treated their most vulnerable citizens.

I approach the issue of supported decision making primarily as a mother. A mother with a legal background, a mother who walks both in the field of disability and law, but a mother.

I've tried to read some of what Michael [Ed. Michael Bach - Vice President of CACL) and others have written on exactly how supported decision making would work. I say tried, not due to lack of interest, but simply due to lack of time. Because I found it fascinating. But, quite frankly, I also found some of it scary.

I was particularly struck by the response to a statement made by the Ontario Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions' statement that the "right to autonomy must be balanced with the right to be well". Part of the response to that statement was that there is no recognized right to be well in domestic or international law.

I beg to differ - Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees all of us the right to "life, liberty and security of the person". I would have no trouble arguing that that includes a right to be well. After all, I listened to Dr. Condoluci speak yesterday of research showing that cross-culturally parents want their children to be healthy, happy and have longevity. I rest my case. For now anyway.

I love the concept of supported decision making. In the abstract. But my concern is exactly how we are to balance the right to autonomy (that you, I and everyone else at this Conference demands and deserves) with the duty to protect where decision-making abilities are limited or where they are lacking needed supports or where people are vulnerable to abuse or neglect.