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Woman With Down Syndrome Wrongly Put In Facility, Family Says

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Teresa Pocock was moved into a long-term care facility in Toronto a few months ago by her other siblings (Getty)
Teresa Pocock was moved into a long-term care facility in Toronto a few months ago by her other siblings (Getty)

A Toronto couple is asking for an apology and has plans to launch a human rights complaint after their 49-year-old sister with Down syndrome was institutionalized.

Teresa Pocock was moved into a long-term care facility in Toronto a few months ago by her other siblings, who had power of attorney and decided their aging father could no longer care for her.

Her sister Franke James was shocked when she found out Pocock had been confined to a facility.

"She is able-bodied and it’s so wrong because we were willing to take her into our home," she said. "When we saw Theresa there it just broke my heart. It was absolutely the wrong environment for her."

Pocock’s other siblings, and the agency dedicated to finding the best homes for disabled Ontarians, decided the woman wasn’t capable of caring for herself.

James, however, disagreed completely with the perception of her sister that was laid out by a caseworker who felt that Pocock needed physical assistance for personal hygiene and dressing tasks.

"I don’t know the person they're describing here," said James, adding that at the Rekai Centre her sister "was surrounded by people who were decades older who in many cases could not feed themselves, they could not walk, talk, do anything for themselves."

Even after James was eventually granted power of attorney and Pollock was allowed to leave the Rekai Centre, police were sent to her door to take her back.

"It was horrible absolutely horrible whenever there's a knock at the door I'm afraid it’s the police again — it's really traumatic," James said.

Seeking apology

Now Pocock has her freedom back and is living with James and her husband.

She spends her days exercising, baking and she even made a recent trip to Washington, D.C.

James however is still looking for apology for and an explanation for how this all happened.

The CCAC issued a statement to CBC Toronto expressing "its compassion for the challenging situation of this client and her family."

James said they plan to file a human rights complaint over Pocock being institutionalized.

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