Ombudsman To Investigate Inappropriate Hospitalization of Adults With Developmental Disabilities

They are often kept in restraints as their condition deteriorates: Paul Dubé BY Angelica Dino 05 Apr 2023

The Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé has launched an investigation into the cases of adults with developmental disabilities who are inappropriately housed in hospitals due to a lack of community support and services.

Dubé has 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.

Dubé said that vulnerable individuals with complex needs are often kept in hospitals for long periods despite having no medical need to be there. “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 the obstacles preventing the transfer of these individuals out of the hospital, including access to appropriate French language services, and how the ministries are addressing them.

This is not the first time the Ombudsman has investigated the systemic issues faced by adults with developmental disabilities in crisis situations. In 2016, Dubé’s report Nowhere to Turn made 60 recommendations to MCCSS, all of which were accepted. Five of these recommendations specifically dealt with individuals identified as “alternate level of care” patients in hospitals. The Ombudsman’s new investigation on adults inappropriately housed in hospitals will include a review of the Ministry’s progress on Dubé’s 2016 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.

The Office of the Ombudsman resolves and investigates more than 25,000 public complaints and inquiries per year about provincial government bodies, including ServiceOntario, Family Responsibility Office, Ontario Disability Support Program, Landlord and Tenant Board. The Ombudsman also investigates cases involving child protection services, French language services, municipalities, universities, and school boards.

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