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Ombudsman to investigate cases of people with developmental disabilities

The Ombudsman’s office has announced that it will investigate cases of people with developmental disabilities who may have been inappropriately housed in hospital due to a lack of supports and services in the community. The investigation will focus on cases reported to the office and will aim to ensure that people with disabilities receive the care and support they need.

The Ombudsman informed the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) and the Ministry of Health that he will investigate whether they are taking adequate steps to ensure that these inappropriately hospitalized individuals are transitioned to appropriate community placements.

“It is particularly concerning that vulnerable individuals with complex needs are in hospital – often for long periods – despite having no medical need to be there,” Ombudsman Dubé said. “They are often kept in restraints, and their condition deteriorates the longer they remain in hospital settings, according to those who have complained to us.”

The investigation will examine what obstacles, including access to appropriate French language services, are preventing the transfer of these individuals out of hospital, and how the ministries are addressing them.

The Ombudsman previously investigated systemic issues faced by hundreds of adults with developmental disabilities in a range of crisis situations, including many who were in hospital because other placements were not available. His 2016 report, Nowhere to Turn, made 60 recommendations to MCCSS, all of which were accepted, and five of which specifically dealt with individuals identified as “alternate level of care” patients in hospitals. This new investigation will include a review of the Ministry’s progress on these recommendations.

The investigation will be led by the Special Ombudsman Response Team, which specializes in systemic investigations, with assistance from the French Language Services Unit.

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