Province slammed for Michener ‘transitioning’ plan

  • Mar. 13, 2013 3:25 p.m.

The province is listening to experts and transitioning 125 adults with developmental disabilities into community homes from the north and south buildings at Michener Centre, an institutional care facility for people with developmental disabilities located in Red Deer.

The change will improve quality of life and ensure that residents can get more personalized care in the community, officials say.

“The needs and well-being of the people who live at Michener will be top of mind for us, and we will offer our support to them and their loved ones. We’ll have plans in place to make this transition as smooth as possible,” said Frank Oberle, associate minister of services for persons with disabilities. “Historically, institutional living was considered to be the best way to support individuals with developmental disabilities, but that’s just not the case anymore.”

Preliminary planning is already underway, and a number of community service providers have been identified that are well-equipped to support these individuals.

“Today, tens of thousands of Albertans with developmental disabilities grow up at home, are included in schools, participate in community recreation, enjoy friendships and move into adulthood as community members pursuing post-secondary studies, a career, employment and a place of their own to call home,” said Bruce Uditsky, CEO of the Alberta Association for Community Living.

“This is a truly momentous day, to be celebrated by all Albertans, as we complete the final stages of a 40-year transition from a past history of isolation and institutionalization to a meaningful life in community for every person with developmental disabilities.”

The closure of Michener Centre’s north and south site facilities follows the transition of people with developmental disabilities into community settings from Youngstown Home in 2011, and Edmonton’s Eric Cormack Centre in late 2012.

“From a national perspective, the Canadian Association for Community Living is extremely pleased that Michener Centre, as one of the largest facilities of its kind in Canada, is accelerating the transition of its residents into community living,” said Norm McLeod, a member of the Canadian Association for Community Living and the People First of Canada Task Force on the Right to Live in the Community.

“We will be here to support the individuals and their families during this transition.”

Over the next several months, the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program will work closely with the residents, their families and guardians to plan their transition into the community.

The preferences of individuals living at Michener and their families will be fundamental to the planning process, and residents will continue to get the support they need during and after the moves. The aim is to integrate residents into community settings by the spring of 2014.

Alberta Human Services will work with Michener Centre staff to ensure they are treated fairly and with the respect they deserve, officials say.

“The staff at Michener contribute immensely to the lives of residents,” said Oberle. “We are grateful for their compassion and dedication to persons with developmental disabilities, and we’re committed to supporting them through this time of change.”