I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer thus far!!
The association’s executive has continued to work hard on your behalf throughout the summer. There are many issues, including a lack of funding, which we are addressing to improve the future of our homes.
As everyone is now aware, Bill Bijl has stepped down as our President in order to pursue personal projects. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bill for his many years of hard work and dedication to our association. There really are no words to express the appreciation we have for someone who has volunteered and given so much of his time on behalf of others. Good luck Bill on all of your future endeavours. In the interim I will take over this role until the next AGM, at which time we will do a formal election. I am looking forward to continuing work within our executive in this capacity to ensure, to the best of our abilities, positive outcomes for all of our concerns.
At this time we have restructured the board and added a couple of positions to help increase our effectiveness and success. Brad Rye has taken over as Senior Director to better help all directors in each area provide the best service and communication possible to its membership. As everyone knows, Brad is extremely knowledgeable and brings his wealth of experience to this role. I am very confident this will be an amazing contribution for our members. John Gaspar has taken over as Director of Membership and he is relentless when he has a job to do!! I am sure everyone will hear from John in the near future. The other change is Joe Pollard, who has taken over my role as Vice President for HSC. Joe has always accompanied me to every meeting and has worked very hard on everyone’s behalf. This choice was the only one that made sense for continuity in our partnerships with Government contacts. I want to extend a big Thank You to all of our board, especially those who took on new roles to help out!!
Recently, Bill sent out his final newsletter, where he mentioned I would later address what is happening with HSC. I thought I would take this opportunity to provide the following information;
I am so happy to report we have developed very collaborative and respectful partnerships with both the policy individuals within the HSC program and the Ministry of Health. More specifically, Dr. Bell, Deputy Minister of Health, and his team. Just this past June we had a very good meeting with Glenna Smith from Policy and Miriam Johnson from our management board. Both individuals acknowledged we are overdue for recognition and increased funding for the services we provide. They will continue to advocate on our behalf in future meetings and consultations. They both identified that we have given them the tools (Grant Thornton Report) and business case to go forward.
With the help of Glenna Smith and support from Dr. Bell, Joe Pollard and I spent 5 days in Nova Scotia reviewing, touring and meeting with key players in regards to their Supportive Housing Program for individuals with disabilities. This was a very valid exercise as these homes are governed by The Homes for Special Care Act.
The reason we went to research Halifax was their impressive concentrated effort to develop a 5 level assessment tool of the individuals requiring services and placements. It is a known fact that clients in our homes have differing needs: Some require relatively limited care and assistance, while others need a much higher level. These differences and the factors of each Needs Assessment help to influence our operating costs. Every effort must be taken to ensure that a true continuum of care is established. Our government and program must recognize the wide array of client needs in our homes and address each with the required flexibility to maintain and enhance the services we provide.
It is evident that in order to create these processes, which build and guide a true continuum of care and which foster the development of an integrated structure at the community levels both regionally and provincially, there needs to be an investment of significant funding into our program and housing for the vulnerable population of adults with mental health diagnoses. We believe the government has a responsibility to ensure leadership and funding to create these supports. To do this in a time of limited resources we are asking for a more equitable re-distribution of funds rather than new funding allotments!!!
The above system is very vital as it will reveal the extent of importance of our role to our client, as well as the high level of care we provide to many very difficult cases. With the system in Halifax the very minimal level 1, which is only shelter and food, they start at $74.00/day. The two homes Joe and I toured at a level 1 were very similar to our settings and they received $96.00/day. This is definitely a far cry from our $49.63/day. In actual fact the home owner of these settings owns 2 of our HSC homes in Ottawa. It was very clear to us that we provide care to clients up to at least their level 4 and sometimes 5 in the instances when we are waiting for nursing home placements.
Presently, I am working on a paper to prove to our government that our homes and clients are neglected and we cannot possibly meet their needs with the current funding system. Furthermore, it is essential to pay for the required service and level. We have asked for this for a long time but I think with the information we will soon be taking forward regarding an impoverished province and their success in housing these clients our governing bodies will be forced to acknowledge this need and finally will move towards implementing this process and the funding required to meet the needs of our clients. It behooves our Program and government to provide us with the tools necessary to carry out “Best Practices” to which they so often refer.
This entire process will be time consuming but is imperative for the future existence of our homes. Both our per diems and the services required of us must be included in the affordable housing concept.
On a very positive note, we have been given a second meeting on September 15, 2015 with the Office of the Minister of Health. This collaboration and partnership has been missing for years and the fact they are listening to us, touring our homes and having follow-up meetings shows a real sincerity and dedication towards working together for the inclusion of our programs in future housing delivery.
I hope everyone agrees we are on the road to a much better and more optimistic future. As your Board of Directors we will continue to do everything in our power to finally have our place in the housing industry with the necessary funding!!
I would like to conclude by saying I hope everyone enjoys the remainder of their summer and feel free to contact myself or any of our executive with any questions or concerns that you may have.
President of the Ontario Homes for Special Needs Association