Friends, family of Michener residents back facility despite abuse reports

A group representing family and friends of residents at Michener Services say the facility is safe despite reports of abuse at group homes and government-run facilities for people with developmental disabilities.

A group representing family and friends of residents at Michener Services say the facility is safe despite reports of abuse at group homes and government-run facilities for people with developmental disabilities.

Abuse is defined under the province’s Protection of Persons in Care Act as an act or omission causing serious bodily harm.

“We’re very satisfied with how individuals residing at Michener have been cared for and if there is a situation, we feel there are means of communication to discuss and deal with it,” said Bill Lough, president of Society of Parents and Friends of Michener Services, on Friday.

“(Michener) is a safe facility. It does help people with severe disabilities, but in my personal experience through my brother, I’ve seen nothing but care and consideration for the individuals that reside there.”

Lough’s brother was a resident at Michener for over 20 years. He died two years ago at age 57.

Michener Services is a provincially operated residential facility in Red Deer with 230 residents and 700 full- and part-time staff.

Records from Alberta Health obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information legislation revealed 39 incidents of abuse of people with intellectual disabilities for the period between July 1, 2010 and May 1, 2012.

Records include 21 cases of staff abusing people in their care, like shouting and hitting. In two instances, residents later died. Eighteen cases involved residents abusing other residents.

Records describe staff shortages and a need for training.

Michener Centre had eight cases of residents abusing other residents, with several physical attacks, and two cases of staff abusing residents.

Stephen Golub, acting CEO of PDD (Persons with Developmental Disabilities) Central Region Community Board, said it’s important to remember where many of the reports of abuse come from — staff.

“A lot of the staff are very compassionate and work hard to provide support. And we know there are staff who are very diligent in reporting situations where they feel another staff has maybe not acted entirely appropriately,” Golub said.

The PDD board is responsible for services at Michener, funds other agencies, and provides training to staff.

One of the deaths in Alberta involved a person with “profound developmental disabilities” who fell down steps leading to a basement after a door was left unlocked at a Parkland Community Living and Supports facility in Red Deer on Nov. 4, 2010. Richard David Jacknife, 47, died seven days later in hospital.

The investigator concluded two home workers were aware the basement door was to be locked but didn’t check it.

That incident will be the subject of an upcoming public fatality inquiry. A date for the inquiry has not yet be set.

“When that inquiry happens there is usually some recommendations or ideas that come out and we certainly would be reviewing those very carefully to see if there is anything we can do to make improvements,” Golub said.

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