A Place to Call Home: Intellectual Disabilities and Residential Services in Nova Scotia

Rachel Barken


Despite broader trends toward the deinstitutionalization of people with intellectual disabilities, evidence that they have a higher quality of life in the community, and recognition of community living as a human right, many in Nova Scotia remain segregated in institutional settings. This article provides insight on the reasons why people with intellectual disabilities continue to be institutionalized in the province. It is based on participant observation, document analysis, and qualitative interview research. It finds that implicated community members— including policymakers, residential service providers and workers, and advocates— hold conflicting beliefs about the purpose and necessity of large institutions, as well as the extent to which community-based group homes reflect institutional models. This paper argues that these conflicting beliefs have practical implications for disability advocates, community service providers, and policymakers in Nova Scotia and in other provinces as they attempt to improve residential services.


Institutionalization; Community Living; Intellectual Disability; Nova Scotia, Government Policy; Advocacy; Institutional Ethnography

Full Text:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15353/cjds.v2i1.70


  • There are currently no refbacks.


The Canadian Journal of Disability Studies is Published by the Canadian Disability Studies Association-Association Canadienne des Études sur l'Incapacité, and is hosted and supported by the University of Waterloo.

ISSN 1929-9192 Canadian Journal of Disability Studies (Online)