Manitoba’s Vulnerable Person’s and Home Care acts prescribe the allocation of home-care hours for those with a disability and who need personal in-home assistance to carry out routine activities of daily living. For Alex Lytwyn, who has lived with cerebral palsy his entire life and is in a wheelchair, the 155 hours bi-weekly of home-care hours allotted to him are no longer adequate and he states is threatening his safety and livelihood.
Lytwyn is calling for a change in the Vulnerable Persons Act, under which he does not qualify for full-time care because he does not have a mental disability, and in the Home Care Act under which he has maxed out the help he can receive. The next viable option would be for Lytwyn to move into a personal-care home. However, just because it is an option does not mean that it is a solution. At 31 years-old and with a job as a freelance writer, Lytywn says, moving into a group home is “something [he’s] not comfortable doing”. A viable solution and change that facilitates and encourages autonomy and independence of those who require in-home assistance must be forthcoming. The only other option would be to turn to private home care which very few families can afford.
Lywtywn is a very active community member, volunteering at community events and activities whenever possible, even “sacrific[ing]…supper because he has to use the staff time to help out with the Christmas lighting of the tree,” his mother, Sherry Lytwyn, states. Not only is Lytwyn’s community involvement being restricted but he also recounts that he “had to turn down job opportunities for fear he might not have the hours or help available from workers to get to or from work”.
In an attempt to engage in conversation with government, Lytwyn has requested a one-on-one meeting with Manitoba Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen and Family Services Minister Scott Fielding so that he can describe his struggles first-hand and catalyze change. However, when asked for comment, the Manitoba government stated “there is no intention to expand the application of the Act to those who do not have significantly impaired intellectual functioning” and instead directed individuals for other avenues of government support programs such as Employment and Income Assistance.
Although there may be other options for financial support, as the government alluded to, perhaps what Lytwyn and others like him may be seeking is also the institutional recognition of the specific vulnerability that those like Lytwyn are subject to. An expansion to the application of Manitoba’s Vulnerable Persons Act to those who also have a physical disability and require special care.