Shocked and appalled over treatment of Michener residents

I saw the article in the newspaper this morning about the closing of Michener in 2014.

I saw the article in the newspaper this morning about the closing of Michener in 2014. Frankly, I’m shocked and appalled after being placated and assured by the government over these past years that the highly vulnerable residents would be looked after as Michener was being downsized and supposedly transitioned.

That promise of appropriate housing and/or proper transition for the remaining Michener clients seems to have been thrown out the window. I’m worried for my sister, who has such specialized needs that a community-based group home scenario or normal long-term care situation will not come close to providing the care that she needs. I suspect this will also be the case for many of the other high needs Michener clients that I see whenever I visit my sister.

As a guardian, I feel that I am in the unique position of having the experience and knowledge of both the care at Michener (past and present) as well as the care that is given out in the community where my sister lived and did not do well for a decade. Given the choice, Michener comes out heads and tails stronger in terms of providing the care that my special needs sister requires.

The community care was rife with underpaid, poorly trained staff, which turned over at an alarmingly high rate, causing the clients undue stress and huge instability in their care. My sister being a prime example of that, her behaviours escalated over the course of those 10 years she was out in the community (on a trial basis in group homes) to the point where she needed to be physically restrained by four RCMP officers as she ripped a gas stove apart in her non-verbal frustration.

The most telling detail, after that horrendous RCMP episode, was when my sister was put back into Michener for a drug review and immediately her behaviours ceased and desisted. And for me, as her guardian, I saw that the obvious and most beneficial choice for my sister (who in her non-verbal way made the choice herself) was and continues to be Michener, where she receives excellent, expert care from individuals who are trained and caring and have worked long term at Michener.

She is now 55 years old, and more fragile and vulnerable to the changes that are being asked of her, and in my opinion is not up to that challenge.

The fact that my sister cannot speak for herself, speaks volumes to me that our government has suddenly decided to oust our most vulnerable citizens into a community and/or care facilities that cannot possibly come close to giving my sister the highly specialized care that allows her some semblance of quality and calm in her life. I am deeply bereft on her behalf, and more than concerned about the closing of Michener.

Michener has had it’s history (no doubt, the early days of institutional living were not stellar) but I can wholeheartedly vouch for the excellent, and more importantly crucial, humane care that my sister has had over the years.

She needs and deserves a better option than simply being rehoused out into the community group homes that have proven they are not able to provide either the specialized care and/or long-term needs of my sister.

Lee Kvern

Okotoks