Edmonton families with loved ones at the Michener Centre in Red Deer are pleading with the province not to close the care centre for the developmentally disabled.

"We owe them, society owes them to at least have them live out their lives in peace at Michener Centre," said Lisa Kaye-Stanisky, whose 61-year-old brother is one of the 125 adult patients set to move out of the centre.

'We're standing up and saying no, this is immoral. These people need to be supported today.'

—Bill Lough, brother of former patient 

"It's not an institution. The people who work there are family to these people."

Kaye-Stanisky was one of 40 people who gathered in Edmonton Thursday night for a meeting put on by the Society of Parents and Friends of Michener, asking the province to reverse its decision to close the centre.

For decades, it has served as a home for developmentally-disabled adults.

The provincial government says that it is trying to move patients away from institutionalized care.  It promises to find spaces for all the current residents, either in other continuing care centres or in the community.

But Kaye-Stanisky says it’s not healthy to move the patients away from staff who have been caring for them for years.

"His behaviour's going to escalate, they're not going to be able to take the time to feed him properly. He's going to aspirate, they're going to put a feeding tube in him and he's going to be restrained and he will die."

Bill Lough's brother lived at the Michener Centre for more than 20 years before he died a few years ago.


Lisa Kaye-Stanisky worries her brother's condition could become worse if moved to an unfamiliar care home. (CBC News)

Lough says the patients and families have to keep on the pressure to make the government reverse its decision and keep the centre open.

"These are human beings. These aren't stats. They breathe, they have hearts, they have pulses, they have emotions and so that's what we're doing," he said.

"We're standing up and saying no, this is immoral. These people need to be supported today."

The province aims to close the centre in about a year.