Action Taken to Improve Disability Support Program
Over the last year, the Department of Community Services has taken a number of steps to improve the Disability Support Program program:
- The Independent Living Support and Alternative Family Support programs will expand by about 50 new placements, thanks to an additional $825,000. Both of these programs help people stay and participate in their communities.
- An additional $500,000 will be invested to increase the number of spots available at day programs for persons with disabilities. These programs provide a variety of activities, including supportive employment, skills training and vocational programming across the province.
- Outreach teams will offer more help to families and service providers who support individuals with disabilities. A team of clinical experts, like social workers, psychologists, and occupational therapists and physiotherapists will provide outreach support in the community. This year, the first team will work in the western region of the province.
- Revised income guidelines for the Direct Family Support for Children program will be developed and implemented so more families have more access to things like medication, transportation, and respite when a break is needed. This represents an investment of $1.3 million over the next three years.
- Effective July 1, 2011, eligible families supporting a child with a disability through the Direct Family Support for Children program will have help for their child to move to programs for adults with disabilities thanks to a $500,000 investment.
- The Protection of Persons in Care Act has been expanded to include small options homes, meaning that those residents, their families, and staff have an avenue to report alleged cases of abuse. Nova Scotia is only one of a few provinces in the country with legislation like the Protection of Persons in Care Act.
- A dedicated Protection of Persons in Care (PPC) unit has been established to investigate all allegations of abuse.
- Amendments to the Homes for Special Care Act have been introduced and passed and should be proclaimed by spring. This legislation will extend licensing to small options homes and will also allow the Minister to appoint an interim person to take over or oversee operations until the license is re-instated.
- Several new community homes were recently opened across the province. The Riverview Adult Residential Centre just added three new homes that accommodate eight people each, and seven people with disabilities recently moved into a new community home in Port Hawkesbury. L’Arche Halifax has opened and is providing eight new beds and L’Arche Antigonish is under construction.
- A service agreement template has been developed and will be rolled out to all service providers. Service Agreements will make sure that what are often informal arrangements are formalized. Having more formal agreements in place means that everyone clearly understands their roles and responsibilities.
- Over the past several years the department’s focus has been on the development and implementation of a number of new programs and services to better meet the needs of persons with disabilities. In 2011-2012, with this strong foundation in place, we will begin development of a comprehensive strategic plan for the Disability Support Program Program.