A Reflection on International Day of Persons with Disabilities
by C.J., Placement Student
TOPIC: International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 03)
Long-term care homes are “publicly-funded facilities for older adults whose care needs
are greater than the level provided by home care or retirement homes, but less than that provided
in hospitals” (Lane et al., 2017, p. 1). Often, residents of long-term care homes have some form
of self-care disability which is defined as “difficulty with or dependence on others to conduct
activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, eating and dressing” (Lane et al., 2017, p. 1).
Thus, in a long-term care home, the staff can provide support for these individuals who cannot
As December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I took it as an
opportunity to delve into the relationship between long-term care homes and individuals with
disabilities. Initially, I was primarily interested in finding information on how long-term care
homes are involved in helping older adults with disabilities as they age. However, I discovered
that long-term care homes support other populations besides older adults. Long-term care homes
also support many adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities. For example, according
to Gillmore (2021), in Ontario, in April 2021, approximately 12% of long-term care residents
were under the age of 65.
Until writing this blog, I was unaware of the other populations that long-term care homes
cater to besides older adults. As a third-year social work student who has volunteered in some of
these homes, I am surprised that this was new information for me. It shows that other structural
issues are at play that neglect the experiences of disabled adults in the LTC sector (Gillmore,
On the surface, it makes sense why individuals with developmental or cognitive
disabilities live in these homes since they may require help with daily functioning. However, the
situation is not ideal as it prevents these individuals from meaningfully participating in society
(Gillmore, 2021). Furthermore, many adults with disabilities living in LTC homes regard living
there as “hell,” “prison,” and “institutionalization” (Gillmore, 2021).
One solution to this problem that many people with disabilities are proponents of is
individualized funding. This initiative would give money directly to the people, so they can
“purchase the support they want and need” (Gillmore, 2021). Not only has individualized
funding promoted community integration, improved self-image and a better quality of life, but it
is also a cost-neutral solution (Gillmore, 2021).
While living in LTC homes works for some disabled individuals, there are other options,
for example, individualized funding. It is essential to support and advocate for individuals with
disabilities and listen to their perspectives and ideas. One way to do this is by learning about the
various initiatives related to the population. I am glad that I got the opportunity to learn more
about the long-term care sector and its subsets that are less discussed. I plan to continue learning
more about this population and show my support and allyship for this community.
Gillmore, M. (2021, November 25). Some young adults with disabilities are stuck in long-term
care. They say that's discrimination. Broadview Magazine.
Lane, N. E., Wodchis, W. P., Boyd, C. M., & Stukel, T. A. (2017). Disability in long-term care
residents explained by prevalent geriatric syndromes, not long-term care home
characteristics: A cross-sectional study. BMC Geriatrics, 17(1).