The people versus the costs?

Community Living British Columbia says its residential options project will give developmentally disabled individuals a choice to move out of their group homes into more "person-centred and cost-effective" dwellings. But a leaked memo, which is being distributed widely, seems to be fanning suspicions that the project is more about cost-savings than people - suspicions the provincial government authority says simply aren't true.

According to the memo, which was sent by the authority's quality service vice-president Carol Goozh to her managers back in October, in order "to be successful, the residential options project is trying to create the conditions that will allow agencies to close group homes as a result of creating more individual and community based living arrangements."

Ms. Goozh also writes that, when residents are moved out of group homes, quality services managers will be given the "financial information that will allow us to keep track of the savings made." And that information is set to be incorporated into a report to the province's treasury board, the powerful cabinet committee responsible for budget and management matters.

In an interview, community living communications director Sally Greenwood maintained achieving cost-savings isn't the principle purpose of the residential options project. "The goal is to give individuals and families more freedom in how they choose their residential support and to enable us to collect the very best information," Ms. Greenwood explained.

"And when an individual expresses an interest in exploring an alternative residential option we're there to support them and their family or their network to see whether or not there is a different option that would be suitable. And if the outcome of this project results in cost-efficiencies, we're not going to run and hide from that."

That being said, Ms. Greenwood added, "It's also our responsibility, as a publicly-funded organization, to do the most with the money we have. But cost-efficiencies through this project are going to be allocated to support new residential options that may also allow for individuals who are currently waiting for support to receive it."

But if the project is about providing choice to developmentally disabled individuals, why has Ms. Goozh told her managers that future group home placements should only "done as a last measure after all other options have been explored?"

Responded Ms. Greenwood, "We want to ensure that everyone placed in a group home model - like any other kind of model - has first had an individual plan developed. Because historically, (group home placement) is the only thing people thought about. And what we are saying now is, before we move to that, make sure we have an individual support plan, make sure that all other options have been explored with the individual, make sure this is the best fit and then, by all means, yes that placement will take place."

Ms. Greenwood went on to reaffirm community living's commitment to ensure the safety of those moving out of group homes. "Safeguards is a huge component of everything that CLBC is undertaking, including informal and formal safeguards. We have a point person specific to safeguarding in this organization." So the fact the memo doesn't mention such safeguards, "in no way suggests it's not something that's being managed or overseen...It's an internal email to communicate a specific need around tracking information. So you can't take it out of context."

Earlier this month, Public Eye exclusively obtained a proposed service delivery plan suggesting community living could close up to 100 group homes. The authority didn't comment directly on that document. But it issued a news release a few days later discussing the residential options project. The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned memo.

***

TO: Quality Service Managers
FROM: Carol Goozh
DATE: October 27, 2006

SUBJECT: Monitoring Placement Activity in Shift Operated Staffed Residential Homes

This memo is to establish procedures for tracking all moves out of 24 hours staffed residential homes, and for ensuring that regions have procedures in place for the future filling of vacancies within staffed residential homes.

Step 1: Tracking moves out of 24 hour staffed residential homes

Please send via Email to Andrea Baker, or Jacinta Eni, any moves that have been made since April 01, 2006. Once we have the names Allan Lamoureaux will provide the financial information that will allow us to keep track of the savings made. The information required is as follows:

1. Name of Individual moved.
2. Agency name and location of group home.
3. Reason for move.
4. The month the Individual moved out of the residence.
5. Was the move at the request of the individual/family?
6. Is the vacancy still vacant?

If the Residential options program can reimburse the region for the cost of this new placement it will do so for the period of time the existing staff residential placement has remain vacant.

Please forward this information electronically to either Jacinta Eni or Andrea Baker. A report detailing placements out of staffed residential programs is required by November 4, 2006 to incorporate into a report to treasury board.

Step 2: Filling vacancies in Staffed Residential Resources (Group home):

To be successful, the residential options project is trying to create the conditions that will allow agencies to close groups homes as a result of creating more individualized and community based living arranagements. Quality service managers and staff will need to work with the service providers to ensure an overall plan for the agency is developed to allow for the closure of specific group homes. There is $1.1 million available through the residential options program to cover the costs of these vacancies, by paying for the costs of the new placement. Please contact Andrea Baker or Jacinta Eni for more details on how to receive these funds.

In the future I require assurance from QS staff that when a placement is made into a group home that it is done as a last measure after all other options have been explored. Such a placement is to have a plan that supports and recommends this type of placement. If the individual does not have a plan, the placement must be considered temporary and the plan must be developed within 60 days of placement. Ongoing quarterly reports are needed that detail any placements into a 24 hour staffed resource.

The report should include the following information:

1. Individual's name
2. Agency and location of resource
3. Reason for the move (planned or unplanned)
4. Date placement was made into the home

The first report is to be completed by the end of November and a financial report at the end of February, 2006, which should anticipate any planned placements that will be made in March, 2007.

10 Comments

One of these days the Public Sector Unions are going to figure out that if you extort too much money from the taxpayer and price yourself out of the market in the process, there will be fewer Union members around to celebrate with.

"One of these days the Public Sector Unions are going to figure out that if you extort too much money from the taxpayer and price yourself out of the market blah, blah, blah."

Wow, and perhaps you'll let us know if one of these days the current government will stop its lies and deception and simply write policy and memos that reflect the real truth.

But then I'm not holding my breath given that, apparently according to Kevin's view the government ( and he), sees very little wrong in using the handicapped to go after political foes like unions and their members.

How would you empty/close a group home when there is a massive wait-list looking for service and $ave money while doing it?

Easy! Just give the same group home service models some fancy new names; “choice” and “family” are preferable terms over “slavery” and “group”.
The VP’s in charge of changing things said so when we moved to bigger offices.

Lower the service standard and accountability, and then you can work people seven days a week and/or 24 hours a day. Recruitment and retention of a skilled workforce is not needed to care for people who don’t usually vote. Besides if the caregivers are working 24 hours a day they can’t protest.

I wonder where Kevin works? Doesn’t he know many group home services are not yet unionized? Some are even run by profit making businesses, and I would think “taxpayers” is a “group” or should I say “family” that includes all working people.

Maybe I mis-read some of the previous comments on this topic. I had thought it was stated that the primary difference between these two types of homes would be the “newer” type would not be Union staffed liked the majority of the soon to be phased out group homes.

Regrettably when costs do continue to rise, efforts to control these costs are put in place, typically this means fewer Union run and more contracted out operations. Maybe you don’t like the facts but don’t shoot the messenger for stating the obvious.

It’s like those private medical clinics that save the Government money on WCB claimants medical needs. The NDP had 10 years to get rid of them if they were so evil and they did nothing. Today they are supposedly evil again. Why were they not evil when the NDP was in power?

So what is the reason Kevin?

To save money? To slay political foes or to improve the lives of the handicapped?

Strange, but I haven't seen one statement in either of the memos nor among the posts here that suggests it might be the latter.

No one's shooting Kevin. We're just acknowledging your understanding that the government has higher priorities on this file than improving life for handicapped people.


1. how disappointing it must be to some who comment here that, no matter under what service model, those who care for disabled adults, union or not, require food and shelter.

2. clbc originated as a consequence of a commitment by bcliberal community living advocates that they could accomplish the cuts of 2001 more efficiently for the gov't than the ministry.

3. this immediately resulted in tearing up union contracts in defiance of campell's pledge not to do so.

4. to be followed shortly by the minister's resignation due to doug walls' scaming substantial amounts of cash as an advocate of 'individualized funding' , which i guess he took literally.

5. one might ask why the 6500 indiviuals who live in models other than group homes are not being surveyed, nor are the 3000 on the waitlist being asked if they would rather have no service than a group home.

5. is it more 'accountable' to put $1.7 million (cost of residential options project) towards closing 'union' care rather than new services for those on the waitlist? only if one has a pathological obsession with demeaning working people.

6. i think the memo speaks clearly for itself, clbc is tracking very closely the closing of group homes and is making sure that no new placements occur.

7. this gov't has continuously lied to this sector and their is absolutely no indication they have any intention of changing.

perhaps we can arrange a truly olympian revolt for them.

Come on Bleedingheart, if overpaying Government Union workers translated into a higher quality of life for the disadvantaged, the world would be a much better place.

Unfortunately it does not work that way.

When you have a budget, less money wasted on labor leaves more money available for programs that actually can enhance the quality of life.

Larsen

You are unbelievable.

Please do the rest of us a favour and climb back into that depressing pit you crawled out of as you really are depressing the hell out of us with your anti-union, anti-worker rhetoric.

No doubt there are problems with group homes and no doubt they are primarily caused by a lack of funding - resulting in retention and recruitment problems. How much should we pay workers that look after the most vulnerable? Six bucks or maybe even less...

The answer really does not lie in the government wasting money. The answer is to pay workers both union and non-union a livable wage, so that we are able to attract and keep people that really do want to work with these folks. The answer is in correcting mistakes made by this government and the previous NDP and Socred governments.

I know that this may be a little tough for you to grasp, but the answer to every question or challenge is not to kick the crap out of working people just trying to get by - either union or not.

My question to Larsen is this - why just the union guys and gals in social services? The brutal attack is never ending - been going on for 15 years... unrelenting abuse of a sector that looks after the most vulnerable in society. And on a scale in the union movement - some of the lowest paid.

are the highways' guys getting kicked around?

are the ditch diggers getting kicked around?

are we not spending enough money on the olympics that many don't want - as they want better health care, and daycare for parents of working children.

Larsen - what hole do you lie in? - good question Mark.

I think Larsen represents the best in the Campbell government. Just think of the worst.

The sentence in Carol Goozh's memo that disturbs me greatly is this: "the residential options program is trying to create the conditions that will allow agencies to close group homes".

With 3,000 people on waiting lists, the government wants to close group homes?

For those of us with special needs family members this kind of decision-making is inexplicable. How could govt leaders whose mandate is to take care of the well-being of the disadvantaged come up with some heartless plan like the residential options plan?

Why are these 3,000 people still on waiting lists? Because their caregivers are too tired to launch effective campaigns to force the government to do what it is required to do with the taxes we pay them to provide services.

So they get away with it.

They got away with it when they came up with the 'deinstitutionalizing' plan without alternatives. They have no problem with mentally ill people living on the streets. Why? Because these people cannot retaliate. There are no consequences.

If the government really wanted to do its job, it could open up beds in group homes SO THAT PEOPLE ON THE WAITING LIST COULD BE MOVED IN. Duh.

Where are the people leaving group homes going to go? Family care homes mean giving 24/7 care day in day out, year in year out with little respite. How many people can do that and be consistently loving and wise in the care of their charges?

Basically this is being allowed to happen because special needs people are unable to do letter-writing campaigns, provide campaign donations that influence policy and purse strings, and do any of the other things that influence decision-making.

What would our BC world be if we had leaders who did the right thing, no matter what?

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