Choice, control and flexibility. What’s not to like about the Direct Funding Program?
Sponsored by: Centre of Independent Living in Toronto (CILT)
Gone are the days of relying on an agency to send you a personal support worker you don’t know, to assist you at a time you didn’t choose.
That’s the beauty of Direct Funding. You hire your own staff, train them to meet your personal needs and create your own schedule. Under Direct Funding, which is funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, each budget is unique. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach.
Available anywhere in Ontario, the program was created by people with disabilities who believed they could manage their own attendant supports (for tasks like dressing and showering) and assume the responsibilities of being an employer. In many ways, it’s like running a small business.
It may sound like a big challenge, but more than 1,600 people across Ontario have been a successful part of the program. Some were nervous about taking on new challenges but they’ve found with some risk, comes great reward. Ray, a 37-year-old program participant with Muscular Dystrophy who lives in southern Ontario, says his life has improved dramatically with Direct Funding.
“Freedom and flexibility. This is what the Direct Funding program has provided me. There is no price I can put on the immense impact this program has had on my quality of life, my relationships and my mental well-being.
I have the freedom and flexibility to hire caregivers who are best suited for me and my individual needs and I’m not restricted to a general community pool. I can now independently select caregivers for those specific needs brought on by my disability. I have the freedom and flexibility to spend quality time with my children, my wife, my siblings and parents without the requirement or obligation that they will later need to tend to my physical and personal care. I can now independently arrange for those tasks I wish I could do myself, including appointments and household responsibilities.
I have the freedom and flexibility to control my schedule. There is
communication and a direct link between me and my caregivers—no third-party
supervisor or schedulers to deal with. I can now deal independently with those
obstacles that created stress before.”
Every person is looking for these two things: freedom and flexibility. The Direct Funding program has given me exactly that. Direct Funding is suited to people who can “self-direct” and “self-manage” their attendants. Participants need a strong understanding of how their disability affects their day-to-day lives and the kind of help they require. That said, participants do not have to do everything on their own. They have the assistance of a bookkeeper to help with payroll and support staff at their local Independent Living Resource Centre to answer questions and provide guidance. There is also a network of other program participants—many of them veterans—to provide support.” —Ray