When documents talk!

The provincial government authority charged with providing services for the developmentally disabled may close up to 100 group homes. This, according to a proposed service delivery plan obtained exclusively by Public Eye. In an interview Tuesday, Community Living British Columbia external relations advisor Lisa Gardonio declined to comment on the plan saying "It's a discussions document with our service providers. It's nowhere near final. And CLBC is certainly not going to comment on draft discussion documents." Thankfully, though, that document seems to speak for itself.

According to the plan, "no more than 100 group homes will be closed" between April 1, 2006 and March 31, 2010. Around 680 are presently funded by the government. Some of the homes being closed will be converted into other kinds of residences for the developmentally disabled, such as semi-independent living units.

The plan also states that "where the number of individuals in a group home numbers three or less” it may be transformed into a so-called community residence. And that transformation won't count as a closure. It's unclear what the difference between a group home and a community residence is. But staff working at such residences will have "shifts of up to 16 hours in length and weekly hours in excess of 40/week" and sometimes receive "24hr shift assignments."

Community Living British Columbia is presently identifying developmentally disabled individuals who want to move out of their group homes into more "person-centred and cost-effective” residential options - such as living with a family, roommate or in one of the aforementioned semi-independent living units.

Last March, the authority's chief executive officer Rick Mowles reportedly told Community Living Coalition members "there is no secret policy on closing group homes. The policy of CLBC is to ensure people know they have choices" - this, according to meeting minutes posted on the advocacy group's Website. The following is a complete copy of the authority's proposed service delivery plan.

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PROPOSED SERVICE DELIVERY PLAN

DRAFT TERMS OF REFERENCE

Definition: the use of the term "individual(s)" in this document refers to a person with developmental disabilities.

1. The parties to this draft agreement include CSSEA, CLBC and the CSSBA.

2. The parties recognize that the following Community Living Sector service delivery models are enabled by the Community Services Labour Relations Act.

(a) Home Living - individual(s) owns or rents accommodation in a family setting (could be single person family setting)
(b) Living with Roommate - individual(s) own or rent an apartment etc. with a live-in caregiver roommate.
(c) Cluster Apartment - individual(s) own or rent clustered apartments (i.e., apartments on same floor) and caregiver(s) lives in own separate apartment in close proximity.
(d) Semi Independent Living - individual(s) owns or rents an apartment/suite but separate from the caregiver (i.e., individual(s) lives in basement suite, caregiver lives upstairs).
(e) Other unknown models that share the principles embodied in the above.

Bargaining unit personnel that transfer to one of the positions noted above will continue to be in the bargaining unit. Where such a transfer occurs the employee will be classified as an Independent Contractor.

A very significant number of Community Living Services Collective Agreement ("Collective Agreement") provisions will not apply to such employees. We will need to discuss what provisions do apply.

Historically bargaining unit employees fill a significant majority of such positions and we do not anticipate this will change.

No bargaining unit employee will be forced to take a transfer to one of these positions.

The individual(s), or the family of that person, has the right to terminate the relationship with the family/caregiver providing the service but only through discussions with CLBC or the contracted service agency. Where such a request is made CLBC and/or the contracted service agency will attempt to reconcile the differences between the parties. If such efforts fail the employee will be classed as a laid off employee except where there are grounds for dismissal.

Respite Care to a family or caregiver providing a service will be provided by a bargaining unit employee from a CSSEA member agency if the community has such an agency. Respite workers are subject to the ongoing approval of the individual(s), that person's family and/or the caregiver providing the service. A specific period of respite assignment, once approved, may only be terminated for cause or the early termination of the assignment.
The monthly allowance payable will be the standard monthly allowance paid for this type of service.

3. Community Residence - where the number of individuals in a group home number three or less, the group home may be converted to a Community Residence. Regular employees retained to provide such service will continue to be in the bargaining unit and will be reclassified as Dependent Contractors.

Community residences will incorporate shifts of up to 16 hours in length and weekly hours in excess of 40/week.
24hr shift assignments may be required in some locations.

Discussion will be required to consider the process that will apply when changing work schedules.

No employee will be forced to take a position in a Community Residence.

4. No more than 100 group homes will be closed or converted to a service delivery model noted in 2 above during the term of this Collective Agreement.

A conversion to a Community residence does not also count as a closure.

5. Regular employees displaced will be eligible to exercise their rights under the layoff provisions of the Collective Agreement or can elect participation in an Employment and/or Severance Program. The elements of this program are as follows. Details are subject to negotiation with the Union.

* Barring a circumstance where the family(s) of the individual(s) has made their own arrangements for a provider listed in 2 above the first opportunity to apply for individual services shall go to bargaining unit employees.
* Wage protection (i.e., no loss of income) for a specified period of time. (For example, 3 months.)
* Placement on a CLBC employment list guided by the spirit of the Continuity of Service and Employment Agreement.
* Where no alternative employment is available a severance allowance at the date of layoff at the election of the displaced employee. (For example, 3 weeks/year of service to a maximum of 24 weeks inclusive of the severance provisions in the Collective Agreement). The amount of severance is reduced by each week the employee elects to be on wage protection.
* Where the enhanced Employment and/or Severance program is elected and a period of time equivalent to the weeks of earnings paid has elapsed a displaced worker has a right of recall to their original agency pursuant to Article 13 of the Collective Agreement.

6. This Agreement shall be open-ended and nothing shall restrict the discussion of problems that arise during the term of the Collective Agreement. A Joint Committee, consisting of three representatives of CSSBA and three representatives of CSSEA, will be established for the resolution of such problems. The Joint Committee will set a meeting schedule. The Chair of the Committee shall alternate between the parties. Minutes shall be taken of each meeting and copies of such minutes shall be provided to CSSEA and CSSBA. Vince Ready will stay seized of this matter and can be called upon by either party to the Joint Committee to resolve such problems as may be referred to him for resolution.

2 Comments

Having worked in this arena for awhile, I am not surprised this is the direction. My colleagues and I believed this was the only way 10 years ago. I am a strong believer that this model will create more risk and opportunity. The job of CLBC is to manage the risk. They have not so far shown they are interested in that role.
This is just the next step towards true de-institutionalization. The biggest challenge is doing the change in a way that enhances individuals lives, makes the families happy and de-institutionalizes the staff as well as the people. That is no small feat.

I work in a group home and can honestly say these changes are unacceptable.This plan states working shifts up to 16 hours in length and weekly hours in excess of 40per week and 24 hour shift assignments.This is unsafe for the residents and staff.I dont believe for one second that this will improve the quallity of life.In point of fact,just the opposite.This is all about saving money reguardless of consequences.

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