Parents of residents at a special care facility in Lower Sackville, N.S. are expressing concerns after a man was seriously injured in an alleged assault at the home.
Cpl. Scott MacRae says there was a scuffle between two residents at the Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre on Sunday, although police were not notified until Thursday.
The centre houses adults with behavioural challenges, development disabilities and chronic mental illness.
MacRae says a 28-year-old resident allegedly pushed a 56-year-old resident, who was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
“It’s still very much under investigation that the younger male pushed the older male,” says MacRae. “He fell down and, with other complications too that are still under investigation, ended up now becoming a life-threatening situation.”
Brenda Hardiman’s daughter, Nichele Benn, has a brain disorder and lives at the long-term-care home. Hardiman says she is concerned about her daughter’s safety after the alleged incident.
“It was just a little reminder that you think that Community Services has your adult child in a safe place where, at the very least, their physical safety is ensured, and it’s just a reminder that it’s not,” says Hardiman. “It’s not an assurance that they’re free from harm.”
The executive director of the facility says they are cooperating fully with police and with the Nova Scotia Community Services Department, but can’t comment on the case due to client confidentiality.
“Quest board, management and staff have been saddened this week by an incident that resulted in serious injury to one of our clients,” says Laura Arthurs. “Our hearts go out to family and friends of the client at this difficult time.”
Like Hardiman, parent Leslie Lowther has her own concerns about the facility.
Her 28-year-old son Richard suffered a traumatic brain injury and now lives at the home.
“Recently, he was in the van, on a van ride, and another resident that sat behind him decided to choke him,” she says.
Despite the alleged assault, Nancy MacLellan, associate deputy minister of Nova Scotia Community Services, says she has confidence in the facility.
“The staff are very well trained, the facility is very well run, and they do have some of the more challenging cases with which they deal, so we have confidence in our service provider,” says MacLellan.
Hardiman and Lowther say too many assaults are happening at special care homes and neither mother supports people being institutionalized. They say it’s time for facilities like Quest to be shut down.
“Government needs to look at this and needs to realize that something has to be done, something has to be done now,” says Lowther. “I don’t want to get that phone call that my son is in the hospital because of another resident.”
Archie Kaiser, a law professor at Dalhousie University, says the option of closing facilities like Quest has been on the table for a while in Nova Scotia.
He says the province is late in recognizing its obligations to ensure people with disabilities are able to live in the community, as they are entitled to.
“This is something that is urgent, you know, for the whole community,” says Kaiser. “Not just because of incidents like this, but because in general, we should not have people with disabilities living in institutional circumstances.”
The RCMP's major crimes unit and Nova Scotia Community Services Department are investigating the incident.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster and The Canadian Press