Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Outrageous System Failure

My mini-series on social innovation in Canada will be continued tomorrow.  I'm still compiling my notes from a fascinating webcast today from MARS Discovery District in Toronto.

In the meantime, I find myself trying to control my outrage over a story in the news about a couple who are being threatened with losing their newborn baby to foster care.  Why?  The parents are both disabled with cerebral palsy.  The parent has many competencies (we are talking a gold medal Paralympian) and both parents have home support workers.




But anyone familiar with how social supports work will know that the home care workers who take care of each parent will not be allowed to touch the newborn because he is 'not the client'.  In fact, home support workers will be attached to one parent only, so even if one spouse suddenly needs help in the bathroom, the caregiver in the house will not be able to assist if they have been assigned to the other spouse.  Such is the insanity of our system.

Because healthy newborns are not allocated home support because they have no medical need, the knee-jerk reaction of the Children's Aid Society was to remove the child.  The assumptions of incapacity on the part of the parents is bad enough, but this situation reveals a deep and desperate inability of our publicly funded services to respond holistically to family needs.

Our systems need a revamp NOW and that is where social innovation comes in.  More tomorrow.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Donna,

I momentarily wrote the enclosed comment for BLOOM, but wish to share it with your readers as well.

love
matt

I just called my sister-in-law, as my brother and his wife, who both have cerebral palsy, were granted funding in order to provide 24 hour care for their son.

Obviously, the primary issue is about money and government resources. For example, the provincial government provides accessible housing in the form of two differing programs. The first, a 24-hour care facility, for those with severe disabilities. These building are privately owned, but subsidized by the government, and run in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.

The second option available, to those with disabilities, is an "accessible housing unit. These buildings, or units, are also privately owned, and subsidized by the province, but do not provide any essential or daily services. Hence, those who typically live in these dwellings have moderate disabilities, usually receiving some assistance from their families or Direct Funding (DF).

Now, inherent in these two different programs, we discover the problem at hand. For instance, if one resides in a 24-hour care facility, they do not qualify for DF, and thus, cannot care for a child.

Moreover, DF is also funded by the Misistry of Health, but was designed to only be used as a form of respite, enabling independent living. However, in some cases, DF has provided 24-hour for parents with disabilities.

With this in mind, I believe resources are available, via the Ministry of Health, but the competing agencies, who provide these services, will be reluctant to foot the bill.

One thing is for sure though, "Attitudes, protocol and, possibly even, the law needs to change."

Matt Kamaratakis

Donna Thomson said...

Hi Matt, this couple have accessible housing and homecare for themselves. BUT their homecare workers are not allowed to care for the baby and the baby himself is not eligible for homecare services. SO, when Children's Aid decided that the couple needed help to keep the baby safe and well cared for, the answer was not to allow the existing homecare workers to help look after the baby, but rather, to remove the baby from the home and put him in foster care. No one ever asks "What do you need?" Rather, they will say "This is what I am allowed to do in your home. It really doesn't matter what you need". That's why this couple has a huge problem. Awful!

Anonymous said...

Donna,

You are correct in stating, "... this couple have accessible housing and homecare for themselves. BUT their homecare workers are not allowed to care for the baby and the baby himself is not eligible for homecare services." However, you must ask yourself, "How or who is providing homecare?" Moreover, it is my understanding that Direct Funding (DF) may being to provide care for the child, but are prohibited from doing so due to the fact, "She couple resides in 24-hour care facility, and as such, does not have complete authority over their care.

Matt Kamaratakis

Anonymous said...

Hi Donna,

I just wanted to apologize for my last comment, as it was poorly written. Sometimes, my fingers can't keep to the numerous thoughts, running rapid, in my head. Moreover, although I have always had a gift for writing, I need to remain diligent when editing, as I must also address a few learning disabilities associated with cerebral palsy -in short, "I got lazy, and I cheated!"

Anyhow, I'm going to write that letter now.

love
matt

Donna Thomson said...

Hi Matt, thank you so much as always for your thoughtful contribution to our discourse! Your experience and perspective is invaluable.