Today, I revisited an article where the Government of Ontario, Canada automatically lump all individuals with developmental disabilities that require long term care into incompatible placement facilities, such as nursing homes.
Peter Farrah is a 33-year-old Canadian male, with a severe form of epilepsy that led to developmental delays. Because of his parents’ inability to properly care for him, he was sent to a long-term care center in Ontario, Canada. The Farrah family all assumed that Peter would be at the nursing home for at least a year or two at most. Twelve years later, he is still at this long-term care facility where only frail and elderly patients are housed.
Farrah stated that this arrangement has taken a tremendous toll on his mental health and that he gets stressed about being there; he throws angry fits on occasions. He battles the exhaustion from regular seizures and the bodily injuries he sustains from the falls that usually follow a seizure. Peter’s parents, Rick and Sue Farrah, are also exhausted from their fruitless attempts of finding supporting housing options in the community that are better suited for their son.
At the age of 21, when Peter led a more normal life, he desired independence from his parents but not like this. He wanted to live with roommates his own age, but now he is subject to living with aging/frail patients. Peter and his parents are in constant search of finding a group home or developmental center that can accommodate his medical needs as well as assist him in his journey to living more independently.
The entire family, as well as many other interested parties, have appealed to the government of Ontario to create a better system for providing long-term care to young individuals with developmental disabilities, but they have deemed Perter as “placed” and in a safe environment. This issue is clearly not on top their priority list right now.
Peter’s parents stated that they are running against a brick wall trying to find a place that is more appropriate for their son; a facility where he can develop friendships and avoid the heartbreaks of having his elderly friends die before he does. Peter stated in the article that when many of his elderly friends pass away before he does, it makes him sad and he cries.
Moreover, Peter’s parents noted that the current living arrangement is counterproductive for Peter. In a nursing home, patients are allowed to choose between two meals each meal periods, their beds are made up and rooms are cleaned for them. This is not conducive for a young person who wants to learn how to cook, clean, and obtain a sense of accomplishment from doing those things.
Peter keeps expressing his frustration and devastation as time goes on, but it seems that he’s stuck at the nursing home facility because it is the only place that can medically care for him until an appropriate facility is found. He fears that he will really fit in at the nursing home one day because he will eventually become a senior citizen and then truly belong there. His exact words were “I don’t want to stay here forever and eventually die here.” Evidently, this situation seems quite bleak for Peter Farah. I hope that he will find the living arrangement that he is looking for sooner than later.
I am glad that the United States has moved away from the notion of institutionalizing all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Now, some of them live at home with parents/caregivers, while the majority of them live in group home facilities. I have to say that caring for individuals with IDD may be challenging at times, but patience, structure, and compassion goes a long way. It is always a great idea to seek assistance when needed; there are many resources and support networks to help with caring for individuals with IDD.
I highly recommend that individuals with IDD be meticulously placed in suitable living settings that are conducive for their well-being; an environment where they can thrive and live meaningful/healthy lifestyles.
Burges, S. (2014). Nursing home life a struggle for young developmentally disabled people. CBC News Canada. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/nursing-home-life-a-struggle-for-young-developmentally-disabled-people-1.2602552