Angela Hurrell, Self-Manager
I would like to share my experience, and how grateful I am to be part of such a wonderful program as the “Self-Managed Attendant Services Direct Funding Program”. My life was based on everyone else’s schedules, but now it has all changed because of Direct Funding. I do my own hiring, manage my routines and schedules, and make my own decisions.
My independence and self-esteem are back. I can come and go as I please and not be stressed about assessments done by case managers or supervisors etc. I have regular staff who meets my daily needs. I make my own schedule and routine to suit my life such as; doctor appointments, baking, grocery shopping, and much more.
Because of Direct Funding I have been able to give back help to some of the services that were there for me in the past. In May 2001, and presently, I was elected to be a board director for “The North Bay and Area Disabled Adult and Youth Centre”. I was able to accept the position as I have one of my staff to drive me to my meetings. This is just one goal I have accomplished, and I’m sure I’ll achieve others.
I don’t mind at all that I must take a couple of hours each month to do payroll and other business related tasks. It has been a learning experience for me and I am proud to say I enjoy it tremendously being my own Self-Manager. Also, the staff that I deal with from time to time at the Independent Living Centre, in Toronto, and in Kingston, have a pleasant personalities and are extremely helpful. I never hesitate to call.
Angela, 51, is a wonderful person accustomed to living in the country north of Kingston, with her husband Doug. A year ago Angela was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Suddenly she could no longer walk! Her MS came on like a stroke. She went to the hospital, then completed rehabilitation and was subsequently moved to a long-term care (LTC) facility.
Life for both Angela and Doug had become extremely difficult. Because there weren't appropriate community options in her rural area, Angela could only go home once every three weeks from the LTC facility. The family was out of cash and had to turn to their RRSP savings to make the co-payments charged by the LTC facility. Sometime last year after Angela's MS diagnosis, Doug had a heart attack. After evening visits with Angela at the LTC facility, he would find it heart-breaking looking back at his wife sitting in the window waving goodbye and neither of them knowing whether this was forever their new normal.
Last summer, while at his wits' end, Doug happened upon the local Independent Living Resource Centre near his workplace in Kingston. He spoke with Neil, a representative of the Self-Managed Attendant Services - Direct Funding Program. Doug had certainly gone to the right place to talk about his and Angela's desperate situation. Upon hearing how Direct Funding works, Doug saw that it could be their lifesaver, giving them an opportunity to get their lives back.
Recently Angela left the LTC home and moved back to her own home to be reunited with her family - a very exciting time for them all. Neil and the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT) provided Angela with lots of support and information about how to arrange the transition to managing her own services. After interviewing and training job applicants, Angela is now employing her own attendants. She is happier, healthier and once again fully participating member of society.
Government investment in the Direct Funding Program allows for real benefits on many fronts, for example: • Angela can access attendant services in this south-east LHIN rural area where there are no other suitable options.
• She can integrate back into her own community and reunite with her husband, family and friends instead of languishing alone in a far-away institution.
• As the employer, she chooses who comes in to assist her and when, allowing her privacy, dignity and flexibility compared to conditions in a LTC facility with its many workers.
• Living in her own home again, she and her husband stopped paying twice for accommodation, a situation that was depleting their RRSP savings.
Supporting Angela's needs through Direct Funding has also had a positive impact on the broader healthcare system. It has freed up a LTC bed and has provided a vastly better option for Angela at significantly less expense.
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The Direct Funding program has been exceptionally valuable to our family. Before starting on the program both my life and my husband’s and children’s lives were extremely burdened. Six years ago my husband was working from home full time and I often had to disrupt him to help look after my basic needs. As my body continued to worsen due to multiple sclerosis, his days and weekends were increasingly becoming more of caregiving ones. This put incredible stress on him as he already did the shopping, cooking and laundry. We could only afford minimal help at the time and used this to the best of our abilities.
Also, during part of that time our children were teenagers/young adults and the last thing we wanted to do was to have their developmental years disrupted by a dependent mother. Although they helped perform their necessary household tasks and assisted where they could, we wanted them NOT to be my caregivers. It was important to us for them to have as normal lives as possible and they have now responded by living away and being independent and productive people.
Prior to Direct Funding, our financial burden had increased tremendously. I could no longer work and my husband’s career demands increased. As a result of these changes, we had to increase caregiving hours. Thus we used other financial means which put us into considerable debt. Upon receiving Direct Funding and becoming a Self-Manager our monetary situation has become manageable. We hired a full-time live-in caregiver, which has allowed my husband to travel for business. Funding also reduced stress in the household. Our caregiver contributes significantly to our living by tending to my activities of daily living, maintaining the house, cooking, doing washing and ironing, and accompanying me to medical appointments. The atmosphere in our home is more positive allowing everyone involved to have an easier time dealing with a difficult situation.
Most importantly, being on this program has allowed me to remain in my home. Without Direct Funding, the financial, emotional and physical demands on both my husband and me would have resulted in my having to move to a nursing home. Not only would my quality of life have been diminished but my familial relationships would have deteriorated. By being allowed to remain in my home, I can still have family and friends over and remain in engaged relationships in a comfortable environment. Also, I feel I have some control over my life by being involved in directing some of the cooking, gardening and socializing.
Finally, the cost of home care is approximately half the cost of institutionalized care. Direct Funding is a win -win situation. My family and I are very thankful for this program which has impacted our lives in a most positive way.
Best Regards, Randi Daniels
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To whom it may concern: This is how I got to where I am today:
Even though I was scared and couldn’t go by myself to Independent Living Centre, I had to or be cut off Ontario Works. Then they did cut me off because someone said they were living at my address, even though they weren’t!
The Centre helped me deal with those problems, and become reinstated, because I couldn’t do it by myself. I really thought I would just continue spinning down.
I started going to the Centre every week and after a few meetings I could get there by myself as long as I had my Walkman and couldn’t hear the outside world. We talked about all of my problems. I didn’t feel good about myself. I had survived serious domestic abuse and only had a few teeth left because of it.
As part of my Participation Agreement with Ontario Works, I attended a literacy program that was great because I learned a lot about computers. I even designed my own web page. The person I was seeing at the Centre was really interested in this and looked at my site and we talked about what I was writing. When I couldn’t attend the literacy program any more I enrolled in an upgrading program because I had to. The course was very demeaning and covered personal issues that stirred up old and awful memories and I hated it.
I felt stuck again. I had to do what Ontario Works said or get cut off benefits again.
The next time I was at the Centre I told the person working with me how frustrated and angry I was. We talked about my case manager at OW and how threatened I felt. The Centre called the supervisor to find out the process of changing case managers. When this was done we talked about my appearance. The Centre called my new case manager to arrange having all of my dental work done. When that was completed I was shocked; I didn’t remember what I used to look like. I felt so different.
We also talked about what else I could do. I didn’t know I had any choices. From having looked at my website, I was asked about all of the recipes I had there. We really started talking about cooking and how this might be my chance at trying something different.
We made an appointment to talk to a cooking school. This was so great and the teacher was really great. We talked about how we could make becoming a real cook for wages happen. I was told I had to go home and think about what all this meant, and if I really wanted to I could try out a job through a placement before going to school.
The placement was based on my interests and skills – cooking and I love it. More importantly I’m good at it.
I started cooking and looking after kids from the time I was thirteen. I wasn’t allowed to go to school after I was sixteen, but don’t want to explain why. You probably couldn’t believe that such terrible things can happen to a kid.
This was my chance at a new life. It has taken me a long time to get my self-esteem back and I just want to keep moving forward.
I started an unpaid placement working for a chef at a seniors' center. He knew that my goal was to go to cooking school and they said they would help me. What a great place. I learned so much and I was so scared but in less than three months I replaced the chef when he was away. Everything went wrong that first day by myself but I stuck with it and I did it!
I would really like to attend and complete the training offered at Liaison College because I know I can learn there. In my opinion this College is different from St Lawrence College because it isn’t as formal and they seem to look at what you can learn instead of what you have learned and what your marks were. This setting is much better for me because I have a learning disability and I don’t fit in at an academic school. I would like to have the program help me with my needs, rather than trying to have me fit a program. Liaison offered those options. I learn best by doing and I know that with support I can be successful.
The Centre and I have checked out several restaurants and the labour market in the Kingston area. There are kitchen jobs and jobs for skilled cooks with a huge salary range. The job market seems to grow as new restaurants of all types are openings along with the growth of Kingston.
Having an opportunity to work in a kitchen with a very patient chef has given me a chance to open a door and peek in. Now I want that door wide open and to be open to my kitchen.
My hard work at the college really paid off because I have been invited to continue my training in the Cook Advanced program. A year ago just attending a cooking school was just a dream and now I have been asked to go farther. I know what this opportunity will mean for me. Having the status of Advanced Cook increases my opportunities to secure a job at a better salary than Cook Basic. This means I will never have to see the inside of a welfare office again. That means with your help I have achieved that dream.
I have successfully completed the Cook Advanced program with the help of the Centre. Every day after class I went there with my assignments and text books to get some help understanding what I was supposed to do. Then I went home and for hours recalled what we had talked about at the Centre. I have a good memory.
Now I’m ready for work. I went back to the Centre for help. We made an appointment with the chef at the golf club to get information about the type of person they would hire. The Centre coached me on what questions to ask and went with me. I guess I asked the right questions because the chef looked at my resume and I was hired that day on a trial basis. I’m still here seven years later and I haven’t missed a day.
I had another dream. I wanted to buy my own house with a picket fence. I was told that in order to have a mortgage I needed to have a credit rating. The Centre helped me apply for a credit card and coached me to use it sparingly and that I had to pay it off every month. A year later, dealing with the same bank I was approved for a mortgage. My entire dream has come true.
I still visit the Centre when I need help. I have even sent my kids there. I tell them they won’t do the work for you but they will help you figure out what you need to do.
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! thought that I would drop a line to the Independent Living Centre to let you know where one of your former clients is today. I am severely learning disabled, to the point of needing assistance with all reading and writing. I received funding through one of your grant programs to attend cooking school in 2002
I went to Liaison College and completed the Cook Basic and Cook Advanced diplomas thanks to this funding. There would have been no way for me to afford this without the assistance provided. I later moved to Ottawa, and continued working towards my apprenticeship, finally receiving my Interprovincial Red Seal in 2007. While in Ottawa. I also undertook further part-time studies in wine and obtained a Sommelier Certificate from Algonquin College in 2007.
Life circumstances have now brought me to Newfoundland, where I have established my own business. I offer small-scale catering and plan wine-tasting events for clients. I will be holding an official launch of the business next month, but I have already been serving clients since August 2007. If you're interested in learning about the services that I offer, the company website is at www.winefQodfun.ca.
I just wanted to say thank you to the your organization which really got me started on this path by helping me to fund my education and to arrange for accommodation at cooking school, especially; Laura Bell, who was my direct contact It's a great service that you are providing to the residents of Kingston.
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