Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 24, 1999
WCR Letters to the Editor
Michener Centre strives to improve quality of lifeI read Brenda Olson's letter which appeared in the April 19 WCR with sadness and some disappointment ("Treat people better than dogs").
As chair of the Michener board, I am committed to providing a high quality of life to the individuals who choose Michener as their home and service provider. To have this service compared (and unfavourably so) to the treatment of an animal, causes me a great deal of concern, and prompted me to write this response.
Today many people are coming forward with horrendous stories of past abuses in Canada's care facilities, and rightly so. Past wrongs must be corrected, and we in the service delivery business, must work diligently to ensure that these types of things can never happen again. We must move forward!
While I cannot change history, I am very proud of the many positive changes Michener has made over the last few years. Although we still occupy many of the same buildings, the changes inside have made them almost unrecognizable to previous visitors.
The large old "wards" have been divided into two to four separate homes, and most residents have their own private bedroom. Even so, the individuals who live in these homes deserve better.
That is why we are currently looking for ways to create new, smaller homes for Michener residents and break down the institutional environment that remains.
You mention a proposal to spend $40 million to upgrade Michener. I'm not sure where this figure comes from, but I suspect it relates to a proposal that the Michener board put forward last summer to re-develop the existing Michener lands.
A very preliminary conceptual plan was presented to the minister (which we believe would be cost neutral), and he has asked us to come back with additional details.
Recognizing that four walls are not the only component of life quality, we have also made significant changes in other areas. Staff work very hard to ensure that all of our supports and services are based on and driven by the needs and wishes of every individual resident. This works well to break down some of the inherent difficulties with congregate care.
Our board's philosophy and the focus of every staff member at Michener, is to "do whatever it takes to provide quality services in a nurturing environment which creates and fosters fulfilling, satisfying and enriched lives and which respects individual choice and control."
People are no longer "treated" on "wards," but rather, live as normal and independent a life as possible in homes. I am very proud of the steps we have taken at Michener to make this happen, but recognize that we will always need to work harder to improve services.
You are absolutely correct when you say most people can live productive and happy lives in the community. Many former Michener residents have proven that to be true. Over the years our staff have worked cooperatively with the regions to assist and support people who choose to leave Michener, and many have done so.
However, a significant number of individuals (or their families/guardians on their behalf) continue to choose Michener as their service provider. And the current minister and many before him have indicated that as long as families and guardians choose Michener, it will continue to be an option in Alberta's array of services.
The Michener board and staff are working hard to change the institutional environment and all that that implies. Our constant goal is to continue improving the quality of life of the individuals who choose our service.
I truly believe that we have made some very progressive steps and I, personally, am very proud of the service we provide. I invite you to visit Michener and see for yourself. I believe you would be positively surprised!
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.