It took Wendy Cuddeback’s autistic daughter four years to get adjusted and comfortable in her group home.
And now she is being forced to do it all over again.
“The government wants to sell the house and all the kids have to move,” said Cuddeback, gathered outside Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster’s office Tuesday with other concerned family members and staff of group homes.
Eight developmentally disabled adults living in the Spartan House in the BX and the Kalview Group Home in Coldstream are slated for relocation.
Along with the stress of moving, staff and families are concerned residents will be taken from their familiar group home settings, of which some have been in for more than 20 years, and forced into smaller settings.
“My daughter needs a group home,” said Cuddeback. “My daughter needs this group home. It’s home.”
“It’s really awful,” said Ruth Dunmore, whose son has lived in Kalview for more than 10 years. “They have their friends there, it’s their home and they’re going to take them and put them with strangers.
“We don’t even know if he’s going to be in Vernon,” said Dunmore of her 52-year-old mentally challenged son.
Community Living B.C., the government funding body for the homes, confirms that residents will be relocated to new homes in the Vernon area due to concerns about the physical structure of the existing homes. But CLBC insists no one will be forced out of the group setting.
“If they’re wanting to explore a non-group home situation we would like to honour that choice,” said Lynn Middleton, CLBC director of regional operations for the Interior.
“What we’re looking at is what works for the individual.”
But having worked with these individuals for years, staff at the homes don’t believe they will do well in a smaller setting.
“They’re not qualified, these people that are in the home sharing,” said Vivian Morris of some more intimate settings. “These people need Depends changed, they need their pills.
“We are qualified and we can deal with their behaviours and we can deal with their needs.”
Listening to the concerns of staff and families in his office Tuesday, MLA Foster heard their message loud and clear.
“Based on what I heard this morning…the people are much better off in a group home than anywhere else,” said Foster, adding that he will be taking their concerns to the government this week.
There are also concerns that staff at the homes could lose their jobs. CLBC operates a contract with an organization that employs the staff.
Middleton confirmed that CLBC is not changing its contracts with the firm.
A timeline has not been established for the move since the homes need to be sold first.