Ontario care? There is a crisis
if you are still looking after your children at 70, or 80 years old?
We have an increasing population of elderly citizens who are looking after
their intellectually handicapped children.
There is in excess of 12,000★ families in this situation in Ontario.
How did this come about?
The result is the ever increasing pool of families of seniors caring for
their adult children.
While there are services available (day programs, transportation etc.), they
are not universal, nor uniform across the province - and there are waiting
lists. What is needed are more residential care facilities. The modern thinking
is using "Group Homes". Usually these homes house three to five individuals
within communities (your village, town, or city). There is usually a maze of
municipal by-laws to navigate to establish these homes. These can be very
restrictive, if not impossible to deal with.
The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services is responsible for
this. There has been much talk, many meeting, bills passed, even money spent
developing agencies, assessment programs etc.; but still only a handful of new
residential placements each year.
What has to be done?
- All levels of government must find a coordinated way forward to produce
more residential living facilities to provide comfortable and meaningful
lives for these people; and to relieve the severe stress currently placed
upon their senior parents.
Parents in their 60's, 70's, 80's and yes even in their 90's are struggling
to manage caring for their adult children with developmental disabilities. As
these parents have aged, their own physical health has become an ongoing
concern and is preventing them from providing the proper environment and
supports required by their adult children.
For most parents, parenting responsibilities such as the provision of
housing and educational support usually end when the children are in their late
teens or twenties. With parents of children with developmental disabilities the
responsibilities never end.
In the 1970' and 80's s the province of Ontario began to consider closing
institutional placements for people with developmental disabilities and in 1987
made a commitment to closing all of them by 2012. The last three institutions
closed in 2009. This was a good thing as some of these settings did not have
very comfortable and homey surroundings. The underlying philosophy was that
people with disabilities would be much better off integrated into the community
with their families and or in group homes. It was, and still is a good
direction. The supports to maintain this, however, must be in
place, and this has not happened.
The community based services have not kept pace with the ongoing demands. It
would appear that no government did any serious future planning to anticipate
this crunch in service. The waiting list backlog has been allowed to accumulate
each year, thereby making the term "waiting lists" almost a joke. Waiting lists
for group home placements are almost non existent. Those adults with
developmental disabilities, whose parents die, have first access. The term
"waiting lists" is now even enshrined in the new legislation which would
suggest that the government does not see this ending.
What other provincial groups would tolerate such treatment, having their
needs put on the back burner for years?
Parents definitely want to keep their children home as long as possible, but
there comes a time when they can no longer physically manage. Ontario
now has a crisis. These senior citizens are not being supported. Care
giving for all aspects of daily living for adult children with developmental
disabilities never ends. Seniors have been waiting patiently for 10 or more
years for group home placements for their adult children. Any other senior
issue would be looked at immediately and addressed. Because these particular
seniors are in the minority, they find themselves struggling to get their cause
Surely Ontario can do better for its senior citizens who are hoping to see
their offspring settled in an inclusive community residential placement
before they die.
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