Storage of people with disabilities in long-term care homes must stop. Instead, nationalize home care.

The failures of private and public long-term care (LTC) homes in Canada have led to 15,000 deaths from COVID-19. Calls to reform LTC by nationalization have become widespread, collecting union support, national rights organizations and political parties.

While LTC is often viewed as a necessary institution to meet the complex medical care needs of the elderly, LTC facilities are used for storing people with disabilities requiring 24-hour care, regardless of their age. And the nationalization of LTC does not adequately address the warehousing ableism of people with disabilities, ultimately maintaining unjust and inadequate care structures.

SLD is disabling for people with disabilities who are forced to depend on institutionalized daily care. It’s time to end LTC in Canada.

It is time to dismantle and replace the LTC system with deinstitutionalization options that prioritize the development of people with disabilities and address the complex care needs of older and young people with disabilities outside the confines of institutions.

Storage for people with disabilities

At the forefront of the call to abolish LTC facilities in Canada is the Ontarians with Disabilities Justice Network, a Hamilton-based disability-run organization that advocates for accessible and satisfying living conditions for people with disabilities.

His most recent campaign to end LTC calls for legislative action to deinstitutionalize almost all 200,000 people with disabilities (including 260 children under 18) living in a long-term care facility and begin closing all facilities with a history of abuse and violence.

They also call on leaders to support the nationalization of home care, palliative care, pharmacare and accessible housing that would give people with disabilities, young and old, the ability to choose where and how to live in the community. with fully funded supports.



Read more: Canadians want home care, not long-term care facilities, after COVID-19


The government’s continued reliance on confining youth with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities to LTC facilities has been met with protest by young disabled occupants of the system who are demanding deinstitutionalization – such as Jonathan Marchand In Quebec, Vicky levack in Nova Scotia and Tyson Sylvester in Manitoba.

In June 2018, Sylvester built a jail cell in downtown Winnipeg to protest the way the Manitoba health care system “left him out of his own life.”

Marchand also camped in a makeshift cage on the lawn of the National Assembly of Quebec in August 2020, and in August 2021 was able to move into your own apartment after receiving home support.

Vicky Levack is spokesperson for the Disability Rights Coalition.
THE CANADIAN PRESS / Michael Tutton

In addition to the urgent calls for change from youth with disabilities locked in LTC facilities, the deplorable living and working conditions of LTC facilities in Canada have also been well documented in over 150 scathing reports.

The scope of death recorded in LTC facilities during the pandemic is another marker of the inability of the system to provide the necessary care and support to its vast clientele. However, the harm suffered by the disabled, elderly and young who continue to live in these spaces deserves as much action as it is condemned.

Prisons under another name

Nationalizing LTC, sometimes referred to as system advertising, would undoubtedly reap the benefits of LTC and could create system-wide changes to improve conditions for residents. However, these calls ignore the fundamental character of LTC facilities as extension of prison status, basically prisons under a different name.

For example, LTC facilities frequently use prison control mechanisms such as the use of psychotropic drugs, locking residents into their rooms, and using physical restraints.

Residents cannot choose what and when to eat, when to wake up or bathe, or when to have visitors. LTC facilities seek to maximize the monitoring and control of residents while minimizing personnel costs.

In order to create a national home care program, workers need higher wages, job security and solid benefits. When working conditions are poor, staff shortages will occur, whether due to low wages, precarious hours and physically demanding work, or due to a work accident or illness. (as in the case of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace).

Staff shortages mean that people with disabilities are not receiving adequate or consistent care, resulting in malnutrition, dehydration or untreated pressure sores. Abolishing long-term care means creating better working and living conditions for caregivers and people with disabilities.



Read more: Long-term care after the COVID-19 disaster: 3 promising avenues for moving forward


Philosopher Shelley Tremain designates public nursing homes as the “showcase” of the industrial complex of the retirement home which “functions in the service of ableism, ageism and racism”.

It is clear that regardless of ownership – by private companies or public bodies – the storage, caging and incarceration of the disabled aged and young is an act of violence.

In Canada, solidarity is being built between the abolitionist movements of prisons and justice for people with disabilities over the years. shared injustices of incarceration in prison and institutional internment of people with disabilities. These movements help us build the political will necessary to move towards a world without more LTC institutions.

We must support the call of people with disabilities to end LTC and develop a national system of home care, palliative care and pharmacare that funds and prioritizes the desire of older and young people with disabilities to live in community.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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