The Alberta Government’s “People with Developmental Disabilities” Agency: One Family’s Experience

Feeling annoyed this morning. For two years my daughter has been a “client” of the Alberta Government agency, People with Developmental Disabilities (PDD). In that period, I have had, on two occasions,  my phone call returned just at the end of office hours on the Friday before the “worker” goes on two week vacation. Both times a voice message was left which demonstrated clearly that the worker had not actually paid any attention to the message I had left with her.

In the two years I’ve been dealing with PDD, I have consistently suggested that the biggest assistance my daughter could use would be to have someone other than her family to get her out of the house on outings, to help broaden her social horizons. Two years I’ve been saying this! So far, PDD has offered to pay for a private agency to teach her to use public transit (something she has been doing already for years) and they’ve offered to pay a private agency – which would also require a payment from us – to refer her to some sort of work or volunteer placement. The only placement on this agencies list of sample placements which was at all appropriate for her was the Nina Haggerty Art Centre — which does not require a referral. We just walked in one day and signed her up.

My last phone call to the PDD worker was to check up on the two year old request for the respite companion. I called on a Tuesday and left a message (of course). On Friday at 4:29 she called and left a message. She spoke as though it was a new request and said that she would get the paperwork going as soon as possible but it would take some time and she’d be away for two weeks.

In two years Alberta PDD has done absolutely nothing for my daughter and the one request we have made, the request we’ve been told has been perfectly possible, has been ignored. Two Years!

I feel so sorry for individuals with developmental disabilities in Alberta – and for their families – who don’t have the private resources our family is fortunate to have.

By the way, Alberta PDD’s “contact” page on their website is a year old blank page.


Update March 14, 2014: I noticed this morning that the PDD contact page has been updated to something useful sometime since my post appeared — interesting timing.  Also, I telephoned my daughter’s worker again this morning – and left a voice message.  I asked that she mail me all the documents I might need for “family managed services”.  I expect this is a desired “outcome” – why have civil servants manage services for the disabled when that task can be offloaded to families of the disabled?


Update 2 for March 14, 2014: the worker and I finally made contact and had a long and not completely pointless conversation.  My takeaway from that conversation, in a nutshell: 

1) Communication has been almost impossible due to a combination of social work-speak jargon, and, more significantly, the fact that the worker has been, she tells me now, basically out of the office since October and my daughter’s file was not transferred to another worker.

2) PDD services seem to be provided to clients through a Byzantine layering of  Government and Not-For-Profit (and possibly for-profit) bureaucracies which do little, I suspect, to aid communication or efficiency.  I have the impression that for every dollar of real service a client gets, there are several (many?) dollars going to various levels of bureaucracy in Government and non-Government agencies.

3) Considering the challenges of being a care-giver for an adult with developmental disabilities, the added stress of dealing with the absurdities of PDD are not worth whatever services might be available.  As I told the worker today, I suspect that many caregivers throw up their hands and shuffle their charges off to group homes.  The worker told me that “that is certainly not our intention.”  Well, the intentions are good, it would seem. Unfortunately, the road we’ve been treading with PDD the last while seems like a bit of a prelude to Hell.

6 comments on “The Alberta Government’s “People with Developmental Disabilities” Agency: One Family’s Experience

  1. Feeling sad for your situation. I know of one advocacy group in the US that addresses issues surrounding health and wellness for all people. Car Pool Health Chat (#CPHC) and on Twitter is the best way to get connected. Wish I knew more about PDD and the service provision that is supposed to be available so I could help, but I am a good listener:)

    • Part of what’s going on with PDD is that there have been funding cut that they’re trying to tart up as an effort to integrate clients into the community more. Everyone knows that’s cheap code for “unload them onto their families. Again, we’re fortunate in our family and exceptional neighbourhood, unlike so many.

  2. […] Feeling annoyed this morning. For two years my daughter has been a “client” of the Alberta Government agency, People with Developmental Disabilities (PDD). In that period, I have had, on two occasions, my phone call …  […]

  3. […] More recently there seems to have been a little progress on my daughter’s file, coincidentally, perhaps, with my going public with our absolutely depressing experience with PDD.  Please have a look: “One Family’s Experience” […]

  4. […] vented my spleen about PDD before, here and here, but, I feel compelled to continue. If I were running the circus, the front line workers would work […]

  5. […] 6. The Alberta Government’s “People with Developmental Disabilities” Agency: One Family’s Expe… […]

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