Does Ontario care?curvy headed shape There is a crisis looming...

What if you are still looking after your children at 70, or 80 years old?

We have an increasing population of elderly citizens who are looking after their intellectually handicapped children.

There is in excess of 12,000 families in this situation in Ontario.

How did this come about?

The result is the ever increasing pool of families of seniors caring for their adult children.

While there are services available (day programs, transportation etc.), they are not universal, nor uniform across the province - and there are waiting lists. What is needed are more residential care facilities. The modern thinking is using "Group Homes". Usually these homes house three to five individuals within communities (your village, town, or city). There is usually a maze of municipal by-laws to navigate to establish these homes. These can be very restrictive, if not impossible to deal with.

The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services is responsible for this. There has been much talk, many meeting, bills passed, even money spent developing agencies, assessment programs etc.; but still only a handful of new residential placements each year.

What has to be done?

Aging Parents in Crisis

Parents in their 60's, 70's, 80's and yes even in their 90's are struggling to manage caring for their adult children with developmental disabilities. As these parents have aged, their own physical health has become an ongoing concern and is preventing them from providing the proper environment and supports required by their adult children.

For most parents, parenting responsibilities such as the provision of housing and educational support usually end when the children are in their late teens or twenties. With parents of children with developmental disabilities the responsibilities never end.

In the 1970' and 80's s the province of Ontario began to consider closing institutional placements for people with developmental disabilities and in 1987 made a commitment to closing all of them by 2012. The last three institutions closed in 2009. This was a good thing as some of these settings did not have very comfortable and homey surroundings. The underlying philosophy was that people with disabilities would be much better off integrated into the community with their families and or in group homes. It was, and still is a good direction. The supports to maintain this, however, must be in place, and this has not happened.

The community based services have not kept pace with the ongoing demands. It would appear that no government did any serious future planning to anticipate this crunch in service. The waiting list backlog has been allowed to accumulate each year, thereby making the term "waiting lists" almost a joke. Waiting lists for group home placements are almost non existent. Those adults with developmental disabilities, whose parents die, have first access. The term "waiting lists" is now even enshrined in the new legislation which would suggest that the government does not see this ending.

What other provincial groups would tolerate such treatment, having their needs put on the back burner for years?

Parents definitely want to keep their children home as long as possible, but there comes a time when they can no longer physically manage. Ontario now has a crisis. These senior citizens are not being supported. Care giving for all aspects of daily living for adult children with developmental disabilities never ends. Seniors have been waiting patiently for 10 or more years for group home placements for their adult children. Any other senior issue would be looked at immediately and addressed. Because these particular seniors are in the minority, they find themselves struggling to get their cause heard.

Surely Ontario can do better for its senior citizens who are hoping to see their offspring settled in an inclusive community residential placement before they die.

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OM21 Homepage

Community Living Mississauga

Community Living Ontario

Ministry of Community and Social Services, Ontario

Special Needs Planning

Contact your MPP

The Real People Campaign

Globe and Mail article

CARP article

What can you do?

Read some stories from the Real People Campaign here and the articles linked above..


Contact your MPP; make this a political issue.

Download this flyer, print it and distribute it.

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Waiting list statistics

What will happen when these parents are no longer capable?

Source: Community Living Ontario

This page has been produced by om21. We advocate for the intellectually handicapped adults in our community.

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