As Sunrise Group Home caregivers strike continues into Day 9, families of residents challenged to care for loved ones

New London

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — At one of many group homes run by Sunrise Northeast, the building is closed, and the workers are out front on strike. This all happened last week when Sunrise Northeast and the union for its workers failed to reach a contract agreement.

RELATED: Day four of Sunrise Group Home caregivers at the picket line as negotiations fall through

“We’re getting ready to go home and get in the car right,” Diane Fournier told her daughter Kelsey after picking her up at The Light House day program in New London.

This has now become her new daily routine. 

It’s taken some getting used to again. She and her husband now live in a home that isn’t handicapped accessible outside or inside.

“It’s the only free place we have with all this access,” said Fournier who showed News8 the couch where Kelsey now spends most of her time in the Noank home.

They are trying to take good care of their 35-year-old daughter who is developmentally disabled.

“My daughter’s non-verbal,” said Fournier. “She has a feeding disorder and a seizure disorder.”

Up until last week she lived in a group home in New London for fourteen years. The home run by Sunrise Northeast is now closed and the workers are on strike.

“The pension is the biggest sticking point too,” said striking worker Elizabeth Esterly. “Not having a pension and not having fair wages.”

“These women are heaven’s angels,” said Fournier. “They’re doing god’s work. This is really important.”

“I feel horribly for the families absolutely,” said Esterly. “I know it’s a really hard time for them. It’s for us.”

It is day 9 of the strike and it is also day 9 for the Fournier family who is now taking care of Kelsey. News 8 was told that most of the people who lived in the closed group homes are now in nursing homes because their families didn’t necessarily have the equipment or the ability to care for them at home.

There are challenges like even trying to figure out how to get Kelsey her medications before they run out.

“Now I’m frustrated,” said Fournier. “Now I’m sad. Now I’m crying.”

But the Fourniers are doing their best until the strike ends or they can get other help.

“My husband’s 66. I’m 65,” said Fournier. “We’re pooped.”

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