Violence at group homes investigated

The province will investigate reports of violence at several group homes for developmentally disabled people in Colchester County.

The province will investigate reports of violence at several group homes for developmentally disabled people in Colchester County.

Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse said she ordered the review after hearing about injuries among residents and caregivers at homes run by the Colchester Residential Services Society.

"To me, any abuse is not appropriate," she said Thursday. "I know that it's a high volatile type setting. But we have to put every check and balance in place possible that that doesn't happen. It's people's homes, and they have to safe and comfortable in their home."

The society, a non-profit group, runs five small group homes in Truro. Each home has three or four residents.

Joan Jessome, president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, met with workers earlier this week to hear their concerns, then contacted the department.   Jessome said the violence has been an ongoing problem and workers feel their bosses have done little to stop it.

"They've lost the confidence in the employer to manage the homes and the services and the staff.   They say there is no respect, there is a culture of blame, a culture of fear," she said.

According to the Workers Compensation Board, there have been 38 violence-related injuries among staff in the past five years.

Last week, a woman suffered a concussion after another resident attacked her.

Jessome said the employees have told her they're afraid to report cases of violence because they fear they'll be reprimanded.

Shannon McLellan, director of the society, said her group will co-operate fully with the investigation and will accept any recommendation that comes out of it.

With files from The Canadian Press