"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What's In a Name ... A Summary of the 'new' Services for Persons with Disabilities Program

I hope each and every one of you appreciate the phenomenon of deja vu.

Because in each of the three "new" policies we recently looked at, the "Services for Persons with Disabilities Policy" [under which each new program operates and is governed by] is defined, in the main, as being ... wait for it ... the "Community Supports for Adults Policy Manual". You might recall our previous discussion of the Community Support for Adults policy (CSAP) where I noted that despite the rolling out of the "new" Services for Persons with Disabilities (SPD) program, the old policy appeared to live on in various forms. Just so it seems.

And, as noted before, for the remaining policies under the Program, which you will find listed here, also appear to rely on the old Community Support for Adults Policy Manual.


So same old, same old?


Well, maybe. Or maybe not. I have outlined the three 'new' policies and I would suggest you read them and judge for yourself. But I will say this - both the Independent Living Support program and the Direct Family Support program, despite their underlying reference to and purported reliance on the old Community Support for Adults Policy Manual, do appear to offer new and very welcome alternatives to indviduals living with disabilities in Nova Scotia, their families and advocates.

Now, admittedly it does get a little "unusual" here if you closely look at the documents. As many who have tried to access services under the old CSAP are likely aware, that program did not provide for the provision of assistance or services if the person resided in their own, or a family member's, home. But the Independent Living Support program is all about the person residing in their own home. And the Direct Family Support program is all about the person residing in a family member's home. So how does that work?

Well, frankly I'm not quite sure. The only place in which the new policies exempt themselves from the CSAP policy is in regard to the financial assessement conducted to determine eligibility for the programs. So, I must admit to having a bit of a chuckle to read in both of the policy documents for the above two programs that the "Continuum of Supports and Services" offered were
A mix of program and support options available through SPD for persons with disabilities. This continuum includes in-home, residential and dayprogram supports and services.
That's amusing, you see, because, as I noted above, the CSAP policy does not include in-home supports and services. And saying it does just doesn't make it so.

But when it comes down to brass tacks, to what matters, maybe ... hopefully ... from a practical point of view, it doesn't. Although it appears all too clear that the Department is in need of a "new" policy manual to go along with its "new" SPD program, for the moment at least, we do have what appear to be two "for real " new living options for individuals with disabilities in Nova Scotia.

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