The first two moves of Michener Centre residents into community group homes were completed in September, and the two individuals are “doing very well” in their new homes.
The first move was completed on Sept. 26, with a resident transitioning into a group home in Red Deer.
The second resident’s move, to an Edmonton group home on Sept. 30, allowed that person to live closer to family.
There remain 224 people living at Michener; the government’s plan is to move 120 of those residents into community group and seniors homes while the rest will stay living in the group homes on the site.
Two residents have passed away since the announcement that the facility’s north and south sites would be closing in March.
According to a spokesperson with the Human Services Department overseeing the transition, one of the moved residents had a guardian who consented to the move, while the other was under public guardianship.
Cheryl Chichak, public affairs officer with Human Services, said the individuals are doing well in the new residences, and that at least four more moves are expected to take place before the end of the year.
The transition team has a long ways to go, though, and the March 31, 2014, target date to close the north and south sites has become flexible.
Though transition planning is ongoing, many families have stopped the discussion process with the transition team in anticipation of a judicial review of the closure edict that will be undertaken in March.
Chichak said the department respects the fact that some families are “not ready to work with us on transition plans” and that it continues to provide information to all families involved.
“We have found that many families are more positive about the transition once they know more about the options in the community that are available to them,” said Chichak in an email.
According to Bill Lough, president of The Society of Parents and Friends of Michener Centre, many guardians of Michener residents are waiting to see what the courts will say in regard to the government’s decision to close the facility before committing further to the process.
In addition to the judicial review, another guardian will be seeking a court opinion in December regarding whether he can continue to withhold consent for any move of his brother until he believes he would be transferred to a home offering “equal or better” care.
Lough said people have always been free to make a choice to leave Michener and what his group wants to continue doing is to make sure no one is forced to move.
He said the group, which is planning a protest to coincide with the Progressive Conservatives’ meeting in Red Deer next weekend, feels it is still possible to convince or force the government to let loved ones live out their days at the facility’s south site.
“We’re encouraging our people to simply hold their ground and let us exercise all avenues of resistance,” said Lough.
He said many guardians have been shown impressive new homes that loved ones could be moved in to, but the group’s concern remains about whether the quality and continuity of care outside of Michener Centre would be equal to that received at the long-running residence.
An October transition update from the Human Services department said that “several Central Alberta agencies” are creating 45 new spaces for Michener residents, to be ready in early 2014.
The update adds that since August, 31 more transition plans for residents have been completed, bringing the total now to 53.
The June transition update from the department had stated that the first move of a resident was possible by the end of that month.