Advocacy News

CLBC ‘home’ share abuses exposed

CLBC has been defending the closure of group homes and forced moves of residents into “home share” contractors with claims that it’s about providing more personalized models of care. And for some aduls with developmental disabilities, finding a home with a caring family is exactly that – a happy new beginning.

But CLBC and the ministers who have promoted this shift don’t like to talk about the fact that a major driver of these changes is simply a desire to decrease the per person costs of providing residential care.

And in a series of disturbing revelations this week, we are learning more about an even darker, ugly side to this shift.

First it was revealed that CLBC executives were moonlighting as home share contractors, earning as much as $10,000 a month on the side (on top of their $130,000 executive salaries and bonuses) for providing room and care in their homes to adults with developmental disabilities. These reports indicate that senior managers who ordered cuts to programs, group homes and other contractors may have themselves been awarded contracts valued at double or tripe the rates paid to typical home share providers.

MOMS is receiving reports that this practice may be far more widespread than CLBC’s management admits and that it has led to conflicts and unresolved complaints. In one case, the parent of a young man alleges that her son was mistreated in the home of a CLBC executive moonlighting as a home share contractor to two clients (CLBC policy requires that home share contractors take in only a single client unless there are exceptional circumstances). In one community, caregivers say this “double dipping” is common practice among CLBC staff, with contractors allegedly reporting to the same office in which they work to manage contracts and supervise themselves and fellow caregivers.

These contracts are not reported in CLBC’s public list of contractors, because they are arranged as subcontracts through community agencies that deliver services for CLBC or through microboard societies created especially to handle the home share arrangements as subcontracts.

These contracts appear to directly violate several provisions in CLBC’s conflict of interest policy. That policy is not posted on CLBC’s Policy Website but MOMS was able to obtain a copy. Other government departments and agencies do not permit staff to “double dip” as contractors to their own employer for obvious conflict of interest reasons.

Now Global BC News has been revealed that in at least one case, a home share contractor was providing care to five individuals in the same home, and was the subject of serious complaints and a police investigation into alleged sexual and physical abuse.

No charges have been laid. Neither CLBC nor the agency responsible for supervising this home share subcontractor will speak publicly about the incident. The public would never have learned of these troubling reports but for whistle blowers throughout the sector who are now risking their own contracts, careers and funding to expose what many see as a deeply flawed culture and serious systemic problems within BC’s troubled community living system.

It is not clear how a CLBC home share contractor could ever have won approval for 5 contracts to care for 5 individuals in the same home, since this is expressly prohibited under CLBC’s policies. The incident also highlights serious gaps in monitoring policies and their enforcement — the serious oversight gaps that families, self-advocates, caregivers, agencies and concerned CLBC staff have been trying to highlight in recent months.

It is not clear how anyone could imagine such an arrangement as consistent with the personalized, individualized “family care” concept that CLBC claims to be promoting when it forces adults out of their homes and into “home share” arrangements.

In another disturbing allegation this week, one care provider says CLBC has obstructed efforts by home share contractors to form their own association to support training, sharing of best practices, standards and advocacy on behalf of the adults whom they support. Home share providers tell us they have been forced to accept budget cuts of 50% and higher imposed by CLBC, with no recourse if they believe it is unreasonable or unfair. Those who complain may get their contracts cancelled and the adult whom they care for reallocated to someone else willing to take them for less money.

MOMS is also learning that some agencies have encouraged their own group home staff to moonlight as home share providers. Colleagues question the practice, pointing out that the care of adults with severe challenges can be emotionally stressful and that such moonlighting, while lucrative, can negatively impact the ability to maintain patience and quality care both at home and at work. One of BC’s largest agencies, the Developmental Disabilties Association, says it does not permit such moonlighting amongst its own staff as a policy, and that it encourages individual care and support plans for its clients that involve multiple providers as a way of providing additional checks and balances.

BC has excellent, caring people dedicating their lives to supporting people with developmental disabilities. But CLBC’s twisted culture and mandate appears to have fostered all the same conditions that led to horrible abuses and neglect in the old days of institutions like Woodlands and Tranquille: isolation, inadequate oversight, a gross failure of standards, accountability and transparency and a culture that places more emphasis on the dollar value of a care contract than on the human beings that it is supposed to be all about.

What will it take for the BC government to confront this crisis and order a full independent enquiry?

In 2004, when the media revealed that the BC government was considering leaving children exposed to moderate sexual abuse to save money, Premier Gordon Campbell finally relented and commissioned the Hughes enquiry, which led to far-reaching changes and the appointment of an independent child and youth advocate.

Today, the media have again revealed that the BC government not only left vulnerable adults exposed to abuse to save money, but that it has sought to cover it up. It’s time for Premier Christy Clark to face the obvious and call in someone of Judge Hughes’ stature to investigate and report publicly on what is happening in community living.

Dawn and Cyndi, MOMS

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