Thursday, 16 February 2012

Change is Afoot, Be Wary!

I first met Kathleen Jordan when she came to my home twenty-three years ago. Jim and I had just received the diagnosis of cerebral palsy and possible mental retardation (as it was called then) for Nicholas. As another mother of a son with disabilities and volunteer consultant to families like her own, Kath offered me information, encouragement and hope. Kathleen and Bill Jordan still care for their son Christopher at home. They depend on a local programme called Real Plans for Real Life to advocate for and secure the help they need to support Chris. This week, all that changed when the Ontario provincial government suddenly announced that Real Plans for Real Life would cease to exist and that funding would be transferred to Service Coordination, the local 'one stop' shop for adults with developmental disabilities in the Ottawa area. Here is how the news reported the story - Kathleen's tears reveal how families feel about this decision.

Yesterday, the long awaited Drummond Report was released. The report details comprehensive recommendations on how to reduce the deficit currently running on the books of the Ontario provincial government. If no cuts are made, economists predict that the provincial deficit will hit 30.2 billion dollars by 2017-18. Here is an important recommendation in the report relating to longterm care: Recommendation 5-74: Increase the focus on home care, supported by required resources, particularly at the community level.

Too bad that Real Plans for Real Life was cut just days before senior public servants had a chance to digest Drummond's recommendations. Someone on the end of the telephone telling you that there are no available places in day programmes or funding for respite is not helpful. It may be transparent and accountable, but it's not helpful.

The pot has been stirred and now is the time to see what rises to the top. I hope that creative entrepreneurs will see this need in our community as an opportunity. Parents are smart problem solvers, but parents of adult children with disabilities are aging and they are tired. Perhaps it's time for open sourcing solutions. Let the debate begin.

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