‘We feel like we’re the forgotten population’: N.S. disability advocate calls for dedicated care homes

Joanne Larade has lived in the same long-term care home for four years, and while she says the staff are well-trained, friendly and helpful, each day is a challenge.

“I have more in common with the staff of course, because they’re my age,” she explained.

Joanne is disabled and requires assistance to live her life. At 47, she is one of the youngest residents at the facility.

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Although she’s happy to help out around the location she calls home, being surrounded by people up to twice her age can take a toll on the always cheerful former Cape Bretoner.

“There’s no one to talk to,” she said. “I’ve got maybe one person on the floor that I can actually have a conversation with except for the staff.”

“Right now our floor’s pretty hard,” she added. “There’s a lot of dementia.”

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Larade says she is often in contact with disabled residents of other long-term care units who express the same problems.

It’s enough to make people like her wonder whether they’d been considered by decision makers.

“We feel like we’re the forgotten population,” she said, “Like they don’t know where to put us. They haven’t figured it out or they forgot.”

“‘Oh no where are we going to put them? We didn’t think of this.”

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Now those who struggle with the situation are calling on the province to make changes to how long-term care is drawn up in Nova Scotia. They’d like to see dedicated spaces for people like them who want to live their lives to the fullest.

“I wish there would be a facility or a house for people my age,” she explained. “Maybe like a group home setting, a house that maybe four or five of us could live in and get all the care we need.”

“That’s all we need,” she continued. “We need that support and then we could have our independent lives and live the way we want.”

On Wednesday morning, Seniors Minister Leo Glavine made a stop in Enfield, N.S., to announce a new program that pairs seniors who live in their homes with people with intellectual disabilities and mental health concerns.

The Home Services Nova Scotia initiative will see non-medical services provided to the older population by a demographic that often misses out on employment opportunities.

When asked about dedicated spaces for those with disabilities who can’t live at home, Glavine said their mandate has been to ensure that people of all ages and challenges remain in their homes as long as possible, but stopped short of indicating standalone disability facilities are in the province’s short-term plans.

“We know that we have to change the group of people who go into nursing homes to going there for shorter periods of time,” he explained. “So therefore staying in their home and getting the supports they need is absolutely the way to go.”

“We know there are people who have those very severe conditions that do need small group home or a facility such as we do have in Waterville with the rehab centre,” he said. “But less and less we want to see people in institutions, we want them to be participants in their family, participants in their community.”

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