Press Release: Young Man with Developmental Disabilities Denied Care from Community Living BC
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – JUNE 13, 2022
“[They are]… just hoping that he takes care of the problem through overdosing or killing himself” – RB’s mother
Community Living BC (CLBC) is a government agency with a mandate to support people with developmental disabilities with housing, social connection, professional and social development, and other forms of support. Through CLBC, people with developmental disabilities can access care and support in the community, and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations, periods of houselessness, and disenfranchisement.
Despite letters from his doctors and an independent neuropsychologist, CLBC has denied support to RB, a young man with a developmental disability who is now suffering the consequences of CLBC’s inaction. While awaiting CLBC’s decision, RB’s mental health has deteriorated and he has spent time in hospital, in shelters, and without a home. His family continues to seek support for him while fighting CLBC’s determination, with Disability Alliance BC’s assistance.
This has not always been RB’s fate. As a child, RB loved to cuddle and snuggle. He was a nurturer and caregiver by nature and dreamed of being a dad. He loved learning and had a persistent, focussed personality. Everything changed for RB as a result of Langerhan’s Cell Histiocytosis (“LCH”), a rare disorder he developed at age 3, which then recurred when he was 8, and affected him more severely as time passed. While RB’s physical impairments intensified, so too did impairments to his mental functioning. Due to LCH he lost his ability to control his emotions and impulses, and he began to act out in ways that were dangerous to himself and to those around him.
RB is now 25 years old. He has been diagnosed with a developmental disability, along with other concurrent disorders. He uses a wheelchair and requires assistance to bathe, cook, and otherwise care for himself. His family cannot safely care for him, and provincial health authorities have refused to provide support appropriate to meet his needs. Consequently, RB has been living on the streets since April 2022. He cannot access shelters due to his physical disability and high support needs, and he has been denied housing through BC Housing because he cannot take care of himself without assistance.
RB’s disability makes him highly vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation. He recently started using illicit substances, which caused further deterioration to his physical and mental impairments.
All of this could have been avoided had CLBC, or any other governmental agency, stepped in to provide RB with the care that he needs to be safe, and to keep those around him safe. Recent appeals to the Ministry of Health for support have gone unanswered. RB’s family remains hopeful that CLBC will reverse their decision and offer their son some opportunity for a safe, meaningful, quality of life.
Disability Alliance BC (DABC) is a provincial organisation that advocates for people with all disabilities to live with dignity, as equal and full participants in the community. DABC believes CLBC is applying its eligibility rules in an unreasonable and unfair way, in order to deny services to RB. Helaine Boyd, Executive Director of Disability Alliance BC, said: “Disability Alliance BC often hears from people who don’t get the care they need, but RB’s situation is especially egregious. We believe he could be living with dignity in the community, but instead he is living on the street, and his condition continues to deteriorate, because he can’t get the support he needs from Community Living BC.” DABC calls on the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and CLBC to re-examine its eligibility criteria to ensure that RB, and others like him, do not slip through the cracks.
For more information contact:
Andrew Robb, Managing Lawyer, Disability Law Clinic: firstname.lastname@example.org
Helaine Boyd, Executive Director, DABC: email@example.com