After hearing each other’s stories in the news, two Nova Scotia mothers have joined forces to create an organization they hope will make life better for their daughters.
Cheryl Pickens and Brenda Hardiman both have daughters with physical and mental disabilities and they are both frustrated with the provincial Department of Community Services.
“I’ve experienced a real lack of transparency with them, failing to tell the whole story when questions are asked concerning our children,” says Pickens, who has had to fight to keep her 23-year-old daughter Caitlyn from being moved to a facility with adult men.
Hardiman wants the department to change its protocols around how her 25-year-old daughter, Nichele, is dealt with when she is having an aggressive outburst.
After hearing each other’s stories, Hardiman and Pickens decided to create a group called Advocating Parents of Nova Scotia. Their vision is to have their children live, work and play in their communities with the supports they need to thrive.
The minister of Community Services has been asked to include the group in government process.
“Let’s come together to resolve this because, at the end of the day, it’s about people and that is key,” says Denise Peterson-Rafuse.
More than 600 Nova Scotians are waiting for a change in their current living arrangements, while another 280 are waiting to be placed in initial housing.
Peterson-Rafuse says there is a government-run program available for those who are able to keep their loved ones at home, called Direct Family Support, and there is no wait list for those eligible for funding through the program.
But Hardiman and Pickens say more needs to be done.
“Institutionalized care needs to cease,” says Hardiman. “More small options care homes need to be created.”
Hardiman and Pickens say they want other families in similar situations to contact them through their Facebook group, Advocating Parents of Nova Scotia, as they push to hold government accountable and seek better support for their loved ones.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kelland Sundahl