Group thinking

Special approval is now required for developmental disabled individuals to receive government-funding to live in a group home, Public Eye has learned. The directive is included in an internal draft policy Community Living British Columbia is using when determining new living arrangements for those individuals, as well as when existing arrangements come up for review.

Here's how it works: staff score a developmental disabled individual's needs on a scale of one to five - with one being the lowest level of need and five being the highest. Those who score between one to three qualify for anywhere from one to 21 hours per week of supported living assistance.

Like those with greater needs, those individuals could also quality to share a home with a support worker. But special approval from one of Community Living British Columbia's four regional operations directors is required for a developmentally disabled individual to qualify to live in a group home - where support is provided by a team that works in 24-hour shifts at the residence.

An accompanying document advises staff the policy is "not available to the public" but can be "shared" with the families of those with developmental disabilities, as well as service providers.

The disclosure of this policy comes two months after the Times Colonist's Lindsay Kines reported accusations that Community Living British Columbia is "pressuring local agencies" to close group homes and and "push people into less-expensive living arrangements, such as home-sharing with a caregiver." The authority has denied those accusations.

In an email to Public Eye, Community Living British Columbia external relations advisor Kate Chandler confirmed the policy is being used to "evaluate new services" and "if a need is identified to change existing services for some individuals."

For example, "staff may review services due to health and safety concerns in existing cases, and/or if the individual or family has made a request for new or additional service. In some cases, people's needs have changed over time and their services need to be adjusted to meet their current needs."

As for why Community Living British Columbia is using a draft policy to make these decision, the spokesperson stated the authority is trying to get "feedback from staff, families and service providers, which will be used to develop our finalized documents."

Ms. Chandler didn't directly respond when asked why the authority is keeping that policy from the public.

The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned documents.

Community Living British Columbia catalogue of services policy

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