Are Group Homes Really Safer Than Community Settings?

Today in the Calgary Herald, reporter Don Braid is reporting on the tragic death of a Calgarian with developmental disabilities who was under the support of Alberta’s PDD (Persons with Developmental Disabilities) funding body for group homes. He or she was scalded to death in a bathtub while under the care of staff at a local group home.  As is often the case in the most horrific of stories, this one is shrouded in, platitudes, secrecy and extended delays . The incident occurred in late October and the person died in late November.  Only as recently as December 6th have organizations supported by PDD been receiving letters with a reminder to endsure that organizations encourage staff to “check the water temperature” before submerging people.

I can only imagine the horror and deep grief that the family of this individual has endured-not to mention the immense pain notoriously related to extensive deep tissue burns that the individual experienced prior to his or her death.

We may never know who this person was, if he or she was an Aunt, or a Brother, Sister or Son, who they loved and who loved them back. We may never know circumstances of their death in any great detail, but moreover we will never know the circumstances of their life.

Here’s what we know to be true. Incidences of abuse are exponentially more likely to occur in paid service delivery systems than organic care settings funded often by government but over seen by circles of support or networks of extended family and community members.

Safety comes from being seen as a whole, contributing and unique individual-something nearly impossible to accomplish is large service delivery systems.