'He needs a home': Sister of man with Down syndrome says long-term care is wrong place for him

A 62-year-old man with Down syndrome is facing his fifth move in two years.

62-year-old man facing fifth move in two years, with family asking for group home placement

Jerry Kryzanowski has faced four different moves in two years, which has been hard on the 62-year-old from Wadena, Sask. His niece Christie Gradin (left) and older sister Dianne Gradin (right) say they would like to see him settled in a group home that has the resources to support Kryzanowski, who has Down syndrome. (Jennifer Quesnel/CBC)

At Christmas, Jerry Kryzanowski told his family he had one wish — to find a home and not live in a hospital.

His family describes the 62-year-old from Wadena, Sask., as a kind and gentle soul, a diehard Roughriders fan who loves riding his bike, singing Elvis tunes and playing his guitar.

But Kryzanowski, who has Down syndrome, has faced a tough couple of years. He's bounced through four different moves, and is looking at a fifth possible move in the next 10 days, as his family struggles to find a placement for him within the social services system.

"I can't even imagine what Jerry's going to go through, and it's been really hard on him, and really hard on family," said his niece, Christie Grandin.

Kryzanowski has had to stay at long-term care facilities, which have not been a good fit, and where he was medicated beyond recognition as "regular Jerry," she said.

A Facebook post detailing the plight of Jerry Kryzanowski, and asking if everyone deserves to have quality of life, was seen by a large audience, with 2,300 people sharing the message to "fight for Jerry." (Facebook)

"I think the hardest part was when he was in diapers and couldn't feed himself. We don't want to see Jerry like that," she said. "It was hard to see him really be lifeless when he's so full of life."

A few years ago, Kryzanowski had been living with his sister and her husband.

I thought we would put him in a group home, where he would be happy, he would get settled and it would become his new home.- Dianne Grandin, sister

But as she got older, Dianne Grandin says she worried as to what would happen to her brother if anything was to happen to them as his caregivers.   

"I thought we would put him in a group home, where he would be happy, he would get settled and it would become his new home," she said.

She found her brother a group home in Wadena, where his family lives, but was eventually told that he needed more resources and support to remain in that setting.

That set off a move where Kryzanowski was placed into two separate long-term care facilities, first in Humboldt, and then closer to his family.

"He wasn't happy. That's not where Jerry wants to live," says Christie Grandin of her uncle. "He'll always say, 'I don't want to live in a hospital, I want to get a house.'"

Staff at the long-term care units may be able to handle patients with dementia or other needs, but are not well versed in dealing with someone with Down syndrome, the family says.

The family of 62-year-old Jerry Kryzanowski with Down syndrome says he's falling through the cracks. 0:46

Long-term care 'was not good for Jerry'

His sister tried to help by taking him out of the facility, but his unhappiness manifested in his behaviour. Kryzanowski was then given medication that seemed to take away the man his family knew and loved.

"I really can't fault the facility for giving him any drugs," said Dianne Grandin, adding the facility was not the proper setting for him, and he reacted poorly to his environment. "It's not good for other residents, it was not good for the staff, it was not good for Jerry."

His family says that Jerry Kryzanowski is a gentle and kind man with a big personality, but that medication he received while at a long-term care facility made him 'lifeless.' (Facebook)

A psychologist told the family that they needed to get Kryzanowski out of the long-time care facility, with him moving to an assessment facility that has been a better fit. However, his time there is coming to its limit on Jan. 20.   

Running into the same crisis

"Now we're butting up against the same timeline and crisis," says his niece. "He'll get sent back to Wadena long-term care if we can't find an appropriate placement for him."

Dianne Grandin says she's concerned that if she was to take her brother back to her home and out of the system, that he might miss an opportunity to be part of a safe and welcoming group home, that would have the resources to support him.

As it was, the family was upset to learn that there had been a vacancy at a group home that came up while Kryzanowski was in a long-term care facility. He was not considered for that vacancy, because he was considered to be safe, with a roof over his head, the family said.

Finding the right placement

Bob Martinook, executive director of Community Living Service Delivery, says that his department within social services works with families to find the right placements for individuals.

"Their success and their happiness is important, absolutely, paramount importance to us," he said.

Our desire is to provide inclusive services in inclusive communities, to have people be able to access and be part of communities.- Bob Martinook, Community Living Service Delivery

However, the right placement might not be available immediately, and people may have to receive supports during a transition, until a better and more permanent solution is found, he said.

"Our desire is to provide inclusive services in inclusive communities, to have people be able to access and be part of communities."

That feeling of inclusion is what the Grandins want for their brother and uncle.

Dianne Grandin says her family is ready to be the voice for Kryzanowski, to get him what he deserves and deliver his Christmas wish not to live in a hospital.

"He needs a home," she says simply.

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