Letter: Residential Services for Disabled Individuals: Great Shortcomings Persist

The recent publication of the annual report by the Quebec Ombudsperson has once again brought to light the great shortcomings that persist in the area of access to and quality of health and social services for individuals deemed the most vulnerable of society.

Little known yet essential “non-institutional” residential services belonging to the Health and Social Service Network accommodate individuals with autism or an intellectual disability. Most individuals, who are under the responsibility of the Centres intégrés universitaires de santé et de service sociaux/Centres intégrés de santé et de service sociaux public establishments. It has since been formally named the Centre de réadaptation en déficience intellectuelle et troubles envahissants du développement (CRDITED).

They are housed in private residences named intermediate resources (RI) that the CIUSSS/CISSS have contracts with.

In her report, the Quebec Ombudsperson, Marie Rinfret, denounces the great shortcomings that exist in a number of these RI throughout Quebec. These include a lack of staffing and proper training, inappropriate matching of residents, long delays associated with relocating, inappropriate management of behavioural problems which consequently led to physical aggressions between residents, etc. Formal inquiries by the Quebec Ombusperson have even led to the formal closure of three RI.

For many years, the Comité régional des associations pour la déficience intellectuelle, the Mouvement des personnes handicapées pour l’accès aux services, and various community organizations have reported the numerous difficult situations that arose from the government’s gradual disengagement from residential services: withdrawal of CRDITED professionals that provided support and clinical supervision, slacking of quality control mechanism by the current CIUSSS, reappearance of the trend to re-institutionalize certain individuals, multiple residential transfers, waiting lists with no end, funding cuts for many RI, etc.

Given the compromised objective of community integration of individuals with autism or an intellectual disability, the parent’s outcries denouncing their disabled family members who are currently left at risk, and the rate of burnout of staff working in these homes—often paid no more than minimum wage—it is urgent for better funding to be directed towards these homes in order to ensure that proper care and supervision is put in place.

It is essential for the government to evaluate the medium and long term needs of this population and to organise services along with the required structure, clinical support and supervision for these residential services.

We are pleased that the Ombusdperson has joined her voice to ours: she has formally called for an action plan in residential services to be submitted by March 31 2018. Will we have an adequate response from Minister Charlebois?

Ghislaine Goulet, Comité régional des associations pour la déficience intellectuelle (CRADI)
Mathieu Francoeur, Mouvement des personnes handicapées pour l’accès aux services (PHAS)