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Yet another Quest resident charged with assault

by Robert Devet

Two assault charges against residents and a violent death all occurred in a relatively short time at Quest, a Lower Sackville institution for people with intellectual disabilities. The mother of Nichelle Benn wants accelerated closures of institutions and an end to criminalization. Photo Robert Devet
Two assault charges against residents and a violent death all occurred in a relatively short time at Quest, a Lower Sackville institution for people with intellectual disabilities. The mother of Nichelle Benn wants accelerated closures of institutions and an end to criminalization. Photo Robert Devet

K'JIPUKTUK (Halifax) - A 38-year old resident of Quest, a Lower Sackville institution for people with intellectual disabilities, was arrested and charged with assault, the Canadian Press reports.

The man allegedly attacked four staff.

Police said nobody was injured or hospitalized. The resident was returned to his room after the charges were laid.

Quest has been in the news a lot lately.

For a long time Quest was the home of Nichelle Benn, a 26 year old woman who has intellectual and physical disabilities including cerebral palsy, epilepsy and an organic brain disorder.

Nichele was charged with assault and assault with a weapon after she allegedly bit and threw a shoe and a foam letter at Quest staff who were transporting her to her room.

And earlier this year a Quest resident died after being pushed by a fellow-resident. At that time no charges were laid.

For Brenda Hardiman, mother of Nichelle, the latest assault charge sounds eerily familiar.

"When Nichelle was first charged I had to give my head a shake," Hardiman told the Halifax Media Co-op.

"This doesn't make sense, I kept thinking. She has an intellectual disability and she threw a temper tantrum and now they want to charge her with assault an put her in jail," Hardiman said.

"Now I realize I wasn't the only parent."

Hardiman, co-founder of Advocating Parents of Nova Scotia, a support organization for parents of children with intellectual disabilities, is calling upon the minister of Community Services and the premier to accellerate closures of institutions.

She much prefers community-based living and small option homes. The most recent assault charge only strengthens the case, she feels.

"Institutional living does not work. That's why other provinces have de-institutionalized. Nova Scotia has a plan to do it, but families don't want it to happen 10 or 15 years down the road. Deaths are happening now, assaults are happening now," Hardiman said.

"We want it done properly, but we want the timeline escalated."

"There is a lot of good staff out there. But the residents have high needs. So if you mix 10 to 12 people on the same floor with all their varying needs, with only a handfull of staff, that's not a good environment for them to work in," she said.

 

See also: New documentary shows horrors of life in institutions in Nova Scotia

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

 

 


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