Our son is thriving in his community of Red Deer! He lives in a lovely home on a quiet cul-de-sac, close to a recreational centre. Similar to many families today, he lives in a blended family with his two chosen brothers and one sister.
He also loves to spend time with his birth family, in Hinton — his mom and dad, sister, brother-in-love, and two precious nieces. He is also an avid Oilers fan.
He has many interests, and these are well met and accommodated in his community of Red Deer.
This handsome young man has complex needs and multiple disabilities. He requires highly trained staff and a two-to-one staffing model, immediate access to medical staff, and backup staff.
These services are simply not available in ordinary group homes. We speak from experience. Our son endured prolonged years being tossed from one group home to the next. If he could tell his own story, it would be hair raising! At the mercy of under-trained workers and often under-staffed homes, he sustained life-threatening, permanent injuries that incurred permanent disabilities. This resulted in major surgeries and lengthy hospital stays. (How cost effective is this — along with the torment he suffered.)
Ordinary group homes are not equipped to meet our son’s needs, and he eventually ended up in the Alberta Hospital. (Again, how cost effective is this?)
He is now nestled into his home in Red Deer. He is safe, he is loved and he is definitely well cared for! He has many interests. Some of his favourites are going to work and attending Red Deer College. All activities he engages in require highly-trained staff support from his home.
Finally! He is enjoying his God-given right to life.
Why then is this in jeopardy of being snuffed out?
A lethal attempt is in place by our government to take from Peter to pay Paul. Under the guise of “community living is best,” our government is choosing to cut a budget on the backs of our most vulnerable, deserving Albertans. The government is refusing to admit that our son is alive and well, in his current community!
In 2008, the government made a solid promise to individuals living where our son does that they could stay in their current living arrangements, unto their dying breath, if they so wished. Why would he want anything less than this when it has already been proven to be life-threatening and inappropriate for him, and others in similar situations, to live elsewhere.
I agree, he does not live in an ordinary group home setting. No he doesn’t! He lives in an extraordinary group home, in a community where his needs are met!
This is a despicable breach of a government promise. This breach was unexpectedly announced immediately after the public announcement of our new provincial budget.
You see, our son lives at Michener Centre, slated to be shut down. This has been his home of refuge for the past 10 years! Now, due to budget restraints, our government has recently decided that individuals at Michener are no longer worthy of the funding model they need to meet their individual needs. We adamantly disagree! He is worthy to receive exactly what he needs to remain in his home in his beloved community of Red Deer!
Ronald and Muriel Whyte
Citizen Advocates for Persons with Disabilities