Nova Scotia

Braemore Home worker fired for pushing resident

A home in Sydney for people with severe disabilities has fired a worker for pushing a resident earlier this month.

A home in Sydney for people with severe disabilities has fired a worker for pushing a resident earlier this month.

Mildred Colbourne, the CEO of Braemore Home, said the employee — whose name is being withheld — was sent home shortly after the April 2 incident.

The worker — a 28-year veteran of the home — was fired the next day.

"It's a new day for Braemore Home," Colbourne said Thursday.

"People need to understand that there is absolutely zero tolerance for any type of inappropriate behaviour, whether that's between residents, between staff or with a worker and a resident."

Colbourne said the resident, who was examined by nursing staff, was not injured but was upset.

In addition to Braemore Home's internal investigation, there are also investigations underway by Cape Breton Regional Police and the provincial Department of Community Services.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees said it's fighting the worker's dismissal.

"It's an unfortunate incident that's occurred at Braemore Home and the union has proceeded to file a grievance on behalf of the employee that has been dismissed," said CUPE spokeswoman Kathy MacLeod.

Colbourne said more changes are expected to take place at Braemore Home over the coming months, including renovations to make the facility more welcoming.

There will also be efforts to move some of the more independent residents into the community, she said.

"We will support staff as much as possible, but if they're going through a difficult time and they believe it could interfere with their interactions with residents, they can't be here," said Colbourne.

"They need to get the support that they need."

Braemore Home should be closed, says advocate

This isn't the first incident of its kind at Braemore Home, which is home to more than 100 people with special needs.

The home's licence was suspended last year following an independent review after an autistic resident was locked inside a constantly lit room for 15 days in 2010.

In February, a former resident was awarded more than $200,000 for being scalded in a hot bath at Braemore Home in 2000.

Paul Young, an advocate for people with disabilities, said problems at Braemore Home persist because institutional care doesn't work.

"It's the institutional model that I am against. It doesn't put people first, but it puts the system first," he told CBC News.

"It's not a matter of rearranging the deck chairs. It's time to get off a sinking ship. People should be supported to live as independently as possible."

Young said the province needs to close places like Braemore Home and help people live in the community.

But the director of Services for Persons with Disabilities said the province believes large institutions are still needed.

"It's not suitable or appropriate for everybody but we do, in Nova Scotia, feel that there is a role for the residential program and larger residential settings like Braemore," said Lorna MacPherson.

MacPherson said in the future, the department will ask residents and their families where they want to live.