A Nova Scotia mother is speaking out after her daughter, who has an intellectual disability, was arrested Thursday evening.
Brenda Hardiman says 26-year-old Nichele Benn was born with brain damage and diagnosed with a brain disorder that results in periodic aggressive outbursts.
Benn lives at a facility under the care of Community Services and Hardiman says she bit a staff member during one of her aggressive outbursts.
Hardiman says her daughter now has to appear in court in January to face assault charges in connection with the alleged incident.
“These special needs people are really, really falling through the cracks,” says Hardiman.
“They aren’t working with the family, there’s no improvements made to this situation. In fact, it’s getting worse.”
It won’t be the first time Benn has appeared in court. Hardiman says police have been called to the facility several times and her daughter has been convicted of assault before.
Hardiman says she doesn’t want to minimize staff safety but she questions why her daughter is being charged with something she can’t control.
“With her and others like her, if they get in jail and their behaviour continues, and they will, they won’t get out, and it just makes me sick to think that’s OK,” says Hardiman.
A spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Association for Community Living says the organization has been working with the family and is concerned police intervention is a step back.
“Nichele is the most vulnerable one in the situation,” says Jocelyne Tranquilla.
“It is not going to be a way in which she, her quality of life, is improved, so I would like to see the police not involved at all. I would like to see support plans put in place, prevention plans.”
Community Services can’t speak to specific cases, but issued a statement with an emphasis on safety:
“Programs must provide safety for both clients and staff. Staff are trained professionals and do everything they can to de-escalate situations. Government does not have a policy regarding calling police. Individual caregiving service providers develop their own protocols,” said the department.
But Hardiman says an approved de-escalation plan wasn’t followed in her daughter’s case, leaving her with more questions and concerns about Benn’s care.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster