N.S. mothers call for better housing options for adults with disabilities
A group of mothers of adult children with disabilities say the best Mother’s Day gift they could ever receive from Nova Scotia’s provincial government would be better options for the housing and care of their sons and daughters.
Jane Gillis’ 20-year-old daughter Anna requires around-the-clock care, which Gillis provides with love. But she also has deep concern for her daughter’s future.
“We’re at the point where the next transition is going to be a difficult one,” says Gillis.
Anna currently receives daytime care and services at a high school, but starting next year she will be considered too old for that option.
Jane Gillis says there aren’t enough quality day programs for her daughter, and is worried about what will happen as years pass.
“What I don’t want to see is when she’s older and I’m not able to care for her anymore, that we get into a crisis situation,” explains Gillis. “And then she’s placed in some sort of care or some other option that isn’t best for her.”
On Monday, Gillis will share her story during a public panel at the Halifax Central Library as part of an event organized by ‘No More Warehousing: Nova Scotia Association for Inclusive Homes and Support’, a group that is fighting for more options for adults with disabilities
The group says over 1000 Nova Scotians with disabilities are currently being ‘warehoused’ in rehabilitation centres, nursing homes, and other institutional facilities, while over 1500 more remain waitlisted for housing support.
Last month, the group held a news conference calling on the N.S. government to follow through on a 2013 promise to provide appropriate community-based housing for people with disabilities.
On Mother’s Day, advocates continued their call.
“We’ll die before they’ll be ready,” said disabilities advocate Jen Powley, who co-founded ‘No More Warehousing’ along with Emma Cameron.
Powley has multiple sclerosis and is quadriplegic. She requires 24-hour care, most of which isn’t funded by the government. She is on a five year waitlist for a nursing home, at 41 years of age.
“Nursing homes are not the solution, I’m not ready for a nursing home,” adds Powley.
Nova Scotia’s Department of Community Services provided a statement on Sunday which reads in part;
“Government has committed over $4-million to increase small option home capacity, and the development of eight new homes has been approved. Two homes have already opened, and two more will open before the fiscal year-end.”
But Powley and Cameron say that’s not enough, and they don’t have time to wait.
“Now the waitlists are over 1000 people long, and there are just no options for people,” says Cameron.
Anna Gillis isn’t on a waitlist yet, as her mother does what she can for as long as she can, while continuing to fight to make an option that’s best for her daughter’s future, a reality.
The group will be holding a panel discussion on Monday, May 13, at the Halifax Central Library.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Heidi Petracek.