NOTE: A social media version of this release is available at http://novascotia.ca/news/smr/2013-08-29-Disabilities-Program/. Hi-res, downloadable photos, audio and video clips will be added after the event.
Persons with disabilities, seniors and people with mental health issues will be able to choose the kinds of services and supports they need to live with greater independence in their own communities, as a result of changes announced today, Aug.
29, by Premier Darrell Dexter.
The premier outlined a commitment to provide a more modern, community-focused support system that gives people from the province greater choice and control over where they live and the kind of care they receive. He also shared three immediate actions in keeping with this new direction.
— establishing a single entry point for programs and services, for continuing care and services for persons with disabilities
— launching a demonstration project to help families develop their own community-based housing solutions
— developing new legislation that will replace the outdated Homes for Special Care Act and provide more modern, people-centred, community-focused support for persons with disabilities, seniors, and people with mental health issues.
“Living independently and being included in your community is a basic right for everybody,” Premier Dexter said. “But over the years, programs became inflexible, impersonal, and unable to respond quickly to many people’s needs.
“Nova Scotia is moving in a new direction, developed by, and for, the people directly involved, that will put people first and help them lead the lives they deserve in their communities.”
This past spring, Nova Scotians shared their ideas about how to improve the supports the province offers to people requiring longer-term care. The report, Putting People First: What We Heard, summarizes those consultations. At the same time, a 19-member advisory committee of government and community organizations, including advocates, service providers, frontline workers and families, developed a roadmap to refocus and improve the services and supports for persons with disabilities.
Action plans to address the recommendations raised through both projects will be released in the coming months.
“This is a very exciting and hopeful day,” said Wendy Lill, co-chair of the advisory committee and the parent of a child with special needs. “In order to start meeting the needs and unlocking the potential of our family members and neighbours with disabilities, we need a vision of equality and good lives in inclusive communities.
“This is just the beginning and I look forward working together to realize this vision.”
The actions are part of a larger strategy to change the way the province provides support for those who receive continuing care. The advisory committee has also made 10 recommendations to improve services in a report released today.
Sheila Henman, whose 59-year-old sister Ellie Chisholm has Down syndrome and lives in an assisted living setting in Waverley, welcomed the province’s commitment to provide families with more community options and greater independence.
“Ellie lived with us for many years. She was loved and supported at home, but as her health deteriorated and stresses on her increased, we knew we had reached a point where we had to shift from looking after her to looking out for her and we couldn’t find the right fit for her,” said Ms. Henman. “But in the end we were heard, and Ellie is now in a fantastic place in the community close me that she loves.”
“It is so important that everyone with a disability and every family struggling, or looking for the right kind of support for a loved one with a disability, be heard,” said Premier Dexter. “People told us that bureaucratic and inflexible government programs don’t work. They have good ideas about the kind of care and support they need to live with independence and dignity.
“While this type of full-scale change will take time and hard work to achieve, we are committed to it. We will work closely with families, advocates and our staff to ensure that our services work for the people they’re meant to help, not the other way around.”
To see the Putting People First: What We Heard summary and the report from the joint advisory committee, visit http://novascotia.ca/coms/putpeoplefirst.