"So many dreams at first seem impossible. And then they seem improbable. And then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
~ Christopher Reeve

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Nova Scotia's First Family Demonstration Project

I'm not sure why I have put off posting about this for so long. It definitely wasn't intentional - perhaps just a by-product of how busy my life seems to have become between going back to practice and what I am about to share.

Show of hands, please ... how many of you remember the NDP government's Roadmap for transforming Nova Scotia's Services for Persons with Disabilities Program (as it was then known)? Sure you do, remember the election campaign when all three parties endorsed the Roadmap and promised to implement it?

Now before you say anything, I must admit that I, too, was very cynical had my doubts - after all, how many times have the names of the Programs been changed? And how many times has government commissioned reports, conducted studies and, above all else, promised to change things ... all with no real or meaningful results?

So it was with great surprise (and maybe a little trepidation) that two other families and mine accepted the Department's offer last summer to turn our Transition House Project* into one of the long-awaited pilot projects for the Roadmap.

It took almost nine months to get here but I am pleased to say that my oldest daughter is one of the participants in the Province's first Family Demonstration Projects.

She has two roommates - not individuals imposed upon her (or she upon them), but two young adults that that she has grown up with and who share similar interests. Two good friends.

I must say that they have a VERY nice home. Trust me when I tell you that most of us would have killed to have our very first place out on own as nice as theirs.

But most important of all, our young adult children have the funding required to engage the support people ("house buddies" as we call them) needed so they can successfully live in their own home in the community.

Let's be clear here. This is most definitely not just enough group or small options home in disguise - we, the families (in our particular situation) decide what is needed to ensure that this will be successful for our young adult children. We, the families, are calling the shots - not the government or some residential service provider.

However, as usual, the devil is always in the details. In that vein I have some bad news and some good news for you.

The bad news is that the process, itself, of getting from the idea dream to reality was long and more than a little painful, for both sides. The good news is now that two different groups of families have successfully negotiated with the government and have committed to being in the Family Demonstration Project and one group is successfully up and running, the process for you and your family should be much, much smoother.

What's this all mean, you ask?

To put it simply ... here it is. The time has finally come. What is your dream for the ideal living situation for yourself or your family member? The time is here, people. It can and is, in fact, being done.

Full disclosure - it's a lot of work for the families to take on, there is no denying that. The Department tells us that Third Party Administrator Funding** (meaning that a third party would actually be responsible for handling the all the day-to-day tasks in making sure the financial end of things runs smoothly) won't be available for another two or three years. That leaves us, the families, to take on all aspects of managing and administrating the home, at least for the time being.

But trust me when I say that this is huge - huge for my daughter, for her roommates and for my and their families. But, most important of all, this has the potential to be huge for all persons with intellectual disabilities and their families in this Province.

Break out the band. Pop the champagne corks. We already have.

* Most definitely a story for another day.

** The Roadmap calls for participants or their families (as the case may be) to have the option of either managing the funding themselves or having a third party (I believe the plan is to redefine the roles of the current residential service providers to include acting as Third Party Funding Administrators) manage the funding. [See pp. iv, 23, 25 and 44 at the link.]