Direct Funding Attendant Services Program Growing Again

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By Leanne Larmondin

For the third time in as many years, the Self-Managed Attendant Services – Direct Funding program has received additional funds to expand the number of people who can benefit from it.

This latest $5 million is the final instalment of a planned $15-million expansion of the program; the funding comes from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. It will allow 120 new people to participate in the innovative program, which provides monthly funding to adults with permanent physical disabilities across the province to recruit, hire and manage their own attendants to assist with their activities of daily living.

By spring of 2017, the expanded program will provide funding directly to more than 1,000 Ontarians with physical disabilities by 2016 to help them self-manage their care. Last year’s funding expansion allowed about 60 new people to participate in the program. Some 1,400 people have participated in the program since its inception 22 years ago.

Program manager Leisa DeBono said the funding increase shows that the province sees the value of the self-managed program. She added that an operational review carried out by an external consulting company was overwhelmingly positive, which likely made the funding increase possible. That review looked at every facet of the program and interviewed both new and veteran program participants, called Self-Managers.

“The reviewers were blown away with the responses from new and long-time participants,” said Ms. DeBono, who added the consultants received even more contributions than they were seeking. “These Self-Managers were just so eager to share their experiences on the program.”

The program manager added that the provincial government has shown its confidence in the philosophy of the program – namely, choice, flexibility and control – and the Independent Living movement in general.

“I think the government has seen that our program can reach more people faster and with less red tape than with almost any other program,” said Ms. DeBono. “Putting funds directly into the hands of participants means it goes so much farther than it could through an agency.”

Administered by the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT) through the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (TCLHIN), the Direct Funding Program (www.dfontario.ca) provides monthly funding to about 850 people across the province to manage their own attendants; participants determine how and when their attendant services are provided.