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Home Supports: Hearing From Consumers

Editor's Note: April D\'Aubin lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she is research analyst for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD).

Disability supports have been identified by disability rights organizations as a key priority, and home supports is a component of disability supports.

CCD's Health Reform Committee undertook a research project with Dr. Kari Krogh to investigate home support policy issues and develop solutions. As CCD is a consumer driven organization, the research sought to hear from home support users throughout Canada.

Consumers had many ideas on how to improve home support for people with disabilities. Some of the suggestions were as follows:

Direct Funding Programs Universally Available--Direct funding programs need to be available in all parts of Canada for all home support users who want to be self-managers, and these programs need to be flexible so that they meet the needs of consumers. For example, consumers want to be able to hire family members, and direct funding programs need to have a safety net for both consumers and workers to address temporary lay-offs, such as when a consumer is in the hospital.

Emphasize Independent Living (IL) Principles--Consumers were anxious to see IL principles influence the training of home support workers.

User Fees--The research participants reported that it was difficult for them to pay user fees. They recommended that these fees be eliminated or reduced.

National Standards--Many participants called for home support programs to be governed by a set of national standards. Some consumers would like to see home support programs follow the principles outlined in the Canada Health Act. These principles are as follows:

Portability--Consumers want home supports attached to the user and not tied to a particular location.

Assessment Procedures--Participants found that the assessment procedures used by home support programs to be problematic. They suggested that such procedures should focus on how to provide consumers with the supports necessary to achieve personal goals, self-determination, the consumer's desired lifestyle and full and equal participation in Canadian life.

More Inclusive Programs--Consumers recommended that home support programs be inclusive of persons with chronic illnesses.

Appeal Mechanisms--The participants recommended that all home support programs have appeal mechanisms attached to them.

This is just a brief account of the recommendations made by consumers. The complete results of the home supports research project will be published on CCD's website: http://www.ccdonline.ca