Community Living B.C. has ordered an independent review of its home-sharing services after a coroner’s inquest into the death of a 76-year-old Victoria woman with a developmental disability.
Joan Andrews died from a head injury Feb. 10, 2011, after climbing over the rails on her bed and falling to the floor in the home she shared with a young family. She was a client of Community Living B.C., the government agency that provides services to adults with developmental disabilities.
Elizabeth Anne Hughson, an associate professor in community rehabilitation and disability studies at the University of Calgary, will lead the external review. Her investigation is expected to last six to seven months, said CLBC spokesman David Hurford .
The review will take a broad look at home-sharing arrangements, in which people with developmental disabilities reside in homes with families or individuals.
“This is an increasingly popular service in the sense that this is what more and more families and individuals are telling us that they want,” Hurford said.
“The demand is growing.”
Hurford said 3,100 individuals live in home-shares in B.C.
“It’s a good time to take a look at what services are being provided and make sure the services are modernized [and] improved.”
The review will look at caregiver training, safety, monitoring and quality-of-life issues. It will also examine recent research done by the B.C. Association for Community Living as well as the findings of a four-day inquest in June into Andrews’s death.
The jury heard that Andrews loved living in a home-share, where she was treated like a member of the family. But her care needs were becoming more complex as she got older, and she had fallen several times prior to her death.
The inquest heard that a growing number of people with disabilities are entering old age, highlighting the need for improved monitoring and better communication between government agencies and the ministries that oversee them.
The jury recommended a training program for home-share providers, more home visits and random, unannounced inspections.
Doug Woollard, interim chief executive officer of CLBC, said in a Dec. 6 letter to the coroner that the agency would take a number of steps to improve home-share services. Expanded training and more frequent home visits were among the suggestions, along with working in partnership with the ministries of health and social development to develop a strategy on aging.
Woollard said the changes are part of an overall effort to improve services at Community Living B.C., which came under fire last year for pushing some people out of group homes and cutting services to others once they turned 19.
The problems prompted several reviews. Earlier this year, the government announced a $40-million boost in the agency’s budget and a 12-point plan for renewal.
As part of that plan, Woollard said, the agency is working to improve its complaints process, upgrade its computer system for tracking critical incidents and strengthen its “whistleblower” protections for people who report problems.
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