Sunday, 9 June 2013

Guest blogger Cathy Asselin asks what "community" really means


Friday morning I watched Alberta Human Services manager Dave Hancock take his best shot at doing damage control on Global TV’s Morning News regarding the Redford government cuts to services for people with disabilities. He talked about how cutting $42 million from the funding for persons with developmental disabilities (PDD) would benefit program users by giving them more opportunities to be part of the “community”. As often as he used the word, I’m not sure Mr. Hancock understands what “community” means.
Community is when you sit with your physically disabled neighbors and listen to three representatives from Alberta Health Services tell you that the block funding for your support services program has been eliminated in favour of a cookie-cutter, zone designed, profit-driven, privatized, service delivery system. I Googled the name of the agency we were told would take over our care by the end of July. I looked at a site called “Rate Your Employer – Revera”. It was not pleasant reading.
I live in the Abby Road Housing Cooperative. It is truly a community in that it is a cooperative whose members are responsible for the running and upkeep of the building as well as the co-op bylaws; has an age range of residents from elementary school to early 90s; able and disabled members. Of the 50 apartments in the building, 23 are adapted for people with physical disabilities. I am one of them.
Abby Road was the brainchild of six physically disabled individuals whose creativity, ingenuity, hard work and perseverance imagined a home that would support their independence. They instituted a support services program for the disabled residents in the co-op so that they received the assistance they needed to live full lives whether they went to school, had jobs or volunteered in the community. Such a place was a first in Alberta and Canada. It has existed since 1988.
Over the past 25 years, Abby Road’s successful model led to the creation of two other similar projects in Edmonton:  Art Space Co-Op and Creekside Condominiums. These two communities also had their support services programs eliminated this week.
Allison Redford has asked that we “trust” her government’s wholesale cuts. Trust is when you are at your most vulnerable and another person takes on the sensitive work of helping you accomplish the most intimate details of your personal care. Caregivers, who have worked with us for years, believe in the value of what they do every day and we value them.
With Abby Road, Art Space and Creekside, the Redford government has an opportunity to build on a successful, well-established concept for delivering services to those who are physically challenged as well as support their caregivers. Premier Redford should try trusting us.
Cathy Asselin


Shadows or the horrid past from GUEST BLOGGER Dr. Heidi Janz


What a Deranged Man with a Knife Didn’t Do, Alison Redford’s Government May Just Accomplish


Heidi Janz, PhD

Five years ago, a man entered my apartment, demanded money, and began choking and stabbing me. He later, reportedly, told police that he had raised his knife to stab me in the chest, but  a bright light appeared out of nowhere, scaring him so much that he stopped and fled.

Five years later, my existence is once again being threatened. But, this time, the threat isn’t coming from a deranged knife-wielding man; it’s coming from a provincial government that, I thought, was sworn to uphold my human rights. And I am becoming increasingly convinced that, once again, nothing short of Divine intervention will save my life, as I know it,

I live in Creekside Condominiums, and have my Homecare service provided by Creekside Support Services (CSS), a user-run cooperative for residents of Creekside who  require homecare. With the support that CSS has been able to provide over the past 16 years, our members have been able to go to school, work, volunteer in the community and are participating fully in society. In my case, the flexible support that CSS has provided me has made it possible for me to work as a Professor at the University of Alberta, travel to speak at conferences, etc. The demise of CSS will in effect herald the end of my active career. This is my ultimate reward for a lifetime of striving to be a contributing member of society.

The unilateral decision of AHS to force all Albertans needing Homecare to entrust themselves to multi-national, for-profit service providers amounts to a willful negation of more than 3 decades of struggle by Albertans with disabilities for full inclusion in society. We are totally frustrated by the lack of consultation by Alberta Health Services and their failure to even let us know that this move was contemplated.  Through the implementation of this policy, AHS will remove the flexible  model of service delivery that has enabled us to participate in society.  We will again become isolated. Furthermore, we will no longer have any real say in how, when, or by whom our essential personal  care services will be provided. This  poses a very real danger to our safety.

In fact, my 89-year-old father is so worried about my safety  once my current caregivers are forced to leave that he is making plans to move into my condo to help care for and protect me.

My parents grew up in Germany under Adolf Hitler. I grew up listening to their harrowing storie of human rights evaporating as strangers barged into their homes at will and informed them of what they were to do. My parents also talked about people who had (or were thought to have) disabilities randomly disappearing from their villages.

These days, to my disbelief and horror, I find myself relating to these stories in ways that I never have before.

Is this really the kind of province that Albertans want to live in?  For all our sakes, I pray not.

















Saturday, 8 June 2013

New home care provider to make $12 an hour profit: home care user



Daniel Lidgett lives in Edmonton and gets home care. Here's his response on looming home care cuts.


Why are you making the changes? I am a tax payer as well! I need the services the "not for profit" support services grant me — Abbey Road Support Services, now your taking them away. Instead, I will be getting Revera a "for profit" organization.  Why are you trying to fix something that isn't broken? If I bowel accident, I have help from Abbey Road Support Services in minutes. How long would I have to wait for Revera, minutes? Hours? In my own filth!

I wish everybody in the provincial legislate had to live in are shoes/wheelchair for one day. It’s not not easy. We need help 24 hours a day.

Getting up, having a bowel routine which lasts for two hours, and then getting dressed. Being disabled is a full time job.

Then there's the staff of support services: they make about $20 an hour, not enough for what they do, but a living wage. Now Revera  — and they are for profit, remember — will get $25 an hour, but they only pay their staff $13 an hour it. So Revera is making a profit of $12 an hour. What’s up with that? So, taxpayer is paying for a big company.


Abbey Road Support Services is non-profit, and all the money is spent in-house. Please reconsider your decision to have it replaced.
PLEASE CONSIDER SIGNING AN ON-LINE PETITION AGAINST HOME CARE CUTS




Friday, 7 June 2013

Fifty-three year old woman told nursing home next option

C


Meagan Sykes lives in Edmonton and shares...



I live in assistance Co-operative Housing, with 24-hour assisted help in case we need it.  The co-op has been open for 23 years but on May 13 we were told by the  Alberta Health (AHS) that on July 31 is our last day for the contract. Then we are turfed to bidders. Agencies workers will come in and help us with our personal care, then they will go. This means our Co-op Artspace in Edmonton won't have anymore 24-hr care. AHS told us that the ones who can't survive this I will be in a nursing home, and I'm only 53.

Why is AHS putting us back to 50 years when we were hidden. 
Thanks Alison for all the frustration and hardship YOU CAUSED. 

PLEASE CONSIDERING SIGNING AN ON-LINE PETITION ON HOME CARE. CLICK HERE!!



Cam 'n Eggs - Home care user says no appeal process



My name is Shawn McCloskey, I'm at Abby Road Housing Co-op and I have a lot of concerns about the proposed changes.

For instance, after the not-for-profit care that I control, that affords me dignity and independence is gone, should I drop out of university and give up on trying to start a family? Because without the 24 hour care I have now, I am unable to do those things. And in all the meetings I've been to with AHS, I've heard of no assurances that 24-hour care will be available. This move takes away the independence of otherwise highly productive members of society. Some of our residents will lose their income without round the clock care, while others will be unable to participate in hobbies or social functions within the community. This is wrong.

More specifically, once my current care is gone, can the government assure me that I can even get out of bed in the morning? Shower? Get help going to the washroom? What if staff do not show up to for my care? Now we have back-up's upon back-up's to ensure someone will be there to carry out essential services. We work directly with our staff to make sure everyone is cared for. Does a for-profit agency really care about any of this? The relationship the Abby Road members have forged with their staff is directly related to the high quality care we have now.

And my last concern involves the very nature of my own government. They seemed to make all of these changes, and additional hardships to a group of people who already have enough to deal with, in the name of "bureaucratic efficiency", so managing the homecare system was easier on them. The government is supposed to work for the people: it is supposed to give people the means to become independent individuals, not take away those means. There was no conversation with us, no working relationship — nothing. "And if you don't like our decision", the government says, "too bad, because there's no appeal process". What does that say about us as a province?

PLEASE CONSIDER SIGNING A PETITION AGAINST HOME CARE. CLICK HERE!!!

                          CAM'S CONNECT CLICK

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Ms. Redford: should I plan my funeral? — Brenda Moore

With looming home care cuts. Alberta premier Alison Redford asked users to "trust" the government Tuesday afternoon.
Home care user Brenda Moore provides the following response ...



Trust You!!!###. . . .  On What grounds?  Would this be the same government that told me fifteen years ago that I should never have to worry about such a decision occurring again?       With the awarding of the contract to Creekside residents to provide client centered support back then, came a certain amount of enlightenment …… that this was a ground breaking model of service delivery in the world that fully encompassed a socially just approach.

For myself and about fourteen neighbors with severe disabilities, thanks to the Creekside Support Services, we have been able to become home owners; to fully participate in all aspects of community life; continue to be active members of the labour force and provide community service through paid or voluntary work.  Within this context we were responsible for own care.  We fear that with the proposed changes we will lose autonomy with care givers rendering us at their mercy and convenience; that these people will not be properly orientated to our individual differences placing our physical well-being at high risk; and concerned that insufficient services will be available on-site. 

Perhaps what I should be doing is planning my funeral.  What will happen to our fine, experienced Care Assistants who have become such  excellent facilitators of independence.  Oh!  And who is this government talking to.  Not us  . . . Such blatant disregard flies in the of social justice and human rights and places persons with disabilities into a position of  submissive otherness.  I guess we are then not equitable Alberta stakeholders.  TRUST YOU?  WHAT DO YOU THINK?


Do you have a concern about the provincial government's proposed home care changes? Please click here and share.

A personal letter to Alberta health minister Fred Horne from home care user Cheryl Humphrey


(Cheryl Humphrey lives in a south side condo and gets home care from Creekside Support Services. The provincial government is not renewing the CSS contract and is appointing a new contractor. This is Ms. Humphrey's response to health minister Fred Horne.)


Letter to Minister of Health
Why are you doing this to us? Life is hard! You have just made our lives much harder in many ways.
This ‘paint brush’ approach of severe changes and cutbacks, without consultation or input from our large segment of the population informs us that we are considered “second class citizens”.
Before making changes such as this please try to consider and visualize what life is like living in a wheelchair or struggling to walk.  Our quality of life is greatly determined by the quality of care available and accessible to us.   Our quality of care and life also largely determines to what extent we are able to be contributing members of society and tax payers.
Cheryl Humphrey

Redford government told home care users not to talk



Sometimes, you can be so close to a news story you need someone to show you a very important part: something you overlooked. That’s what Edmonton Journal reporter Sheila Pratt did for me Tuesday when she wrote a story about Creekside Support Services in the building where I live. CSS has been providing home care since 1997 to persons with disabilities. (I have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair.)

We were informed Friday the provincial government will not be renewing the CSS contract, which is administered by us — the service users. In the past few days I have been blogging about what the change will mean. But after talking to Sheila — my former city editor at The Journal — she asked me to confirm something she had from two other sources in the story.

Did the provincial government enforced a gag order on us? And they did.

CSS was asked to submit a proposal for funding to the government in February. We were told by staff soliciting the proposal that if we went to our MLA or the media our proposal would be automatically disqualified. Sounds life a gag order to me, doesn’t it?

And, it also tells me the government already had their mind made up and was unwilling to listen.  When I think about it now I am angry.  And feel it is not a sign of democracy.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SIGN A PETITION AGAINST HOME CARE!


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

A very interesting point of view from Joy Gossel on premier Redford's home care status


Joy Gossel works as co-ordinator for Creekside Support Services and does not have a disability.

These are her thoughts on premier Allison Redford telling people with disabilities to trust her on home care changes.


Trust someone who has ripped away the fundamental rights of human beings?  Is she kidding?  

Redford (and her regime) need to take a good look in the mirror and thank their lucky stars that they are still able to make their own decisions - about their personal lives, about how they want their day to go, about who is going to be in their lives that day, while those they 'govern' are no longer able to do that.


Even though those individuals believed they still lived in a free society that cherished basic human rights.

A Good point of view for Alison Redford: Nic Good

Premier Alison Redforrd spoke Tuesday and encouraged people with disabilities to trust her with home care changes. (Here's the story)

Nic good gets home care. This is his response.
Nic Good // PHOTO: GREG SOUTHAM, EDMONTON JOURNAL


Alison Redford wants me to trust her. 


My response? 


What have you done to earn my trust? Alison Redford, your government is taking away my caregiver support agency. I wish I could ask you face-to-face, what is your plan to replace my caregivers?


 What is the transition period going to involve? What are we transitioning to? Of course you have the answers to all my questions. You know the intimate details about my disability, don't you? You know exactly what I need from my caregivers on a day-to-day basis. You know exactly how Creekside Support Services operates. You also know how much less it's going to cost to replace my on-site caregivers. 


After all that's the only reason you're making any changes. You must know something about business that I don't. The way I see it, businesses exist to make a profit. They don't provide a service just for fun. 


You will be bringing in an off-site agency to manage my caregivers. That offsite agency is a business. Maybe in your world, the one where I'm supposed to trust you, businesses get paid with rainbows and lollipops. It would be pretty easy to save money if that were the case. 


I don't believe you know anything about Creekside Support Services. I don't believe you have any type of plan to transition caregivers Creekside Support Services. I don't trust you as far as I could throw you!


CLICK HERE TO READ THE EDMONTON JOURNAL STORY FOR NIC GOOD'S COMPLETE STORY

Trust Redford Alison Redford on home care??? Heidi Janz says forget it but thanks for the laugh


Premier Alison Redford asked Albertans to trust her with home care issues Tuesday.

CLICK HERE FOR STORY.

But Dr. Heidi Janz doesn't buy it. At all.


Premier Redford asks people with disabilities to “trust” her government to meet their needs?

Heidi Janz


Dr. Janz writes ...

Well, I’m sorry, Ms. Redford, but, first of all, MY trust needs to be EARNED. And secondly, your government has already broken my trust.

Your government broke my trust when it allowed AHS to arbitrarily terminate the contracts of user-operated  homecare services like Creekside Support Services, which has provided me with high quality homecare for the past seven years. Because our program is innovative and flexible, my aides were able to provide me with personal care outside my home. This meant I could do things like work as a professor at the University of Alberta and travel to conferences. In retrospect, I can now see that I  should have trusted your government that the termination of my position due to cutbacks was actually for my good. After all, now that I will no longer be able to receive homecare services outside my actual apartment, I would likely have had to quit my job now anyway—if I still had one.

Likewise, you want me to trust that the big-box, for-profit  homecare providers whom you’ve now contracted to provide my care, will provide me with the same quality of care as our current healthcare aides, many of whom  I’ve worked with for six years or more. And I suppose you also want me to trust you that it’s actually a GOOD THING that I will have absolutely no control  over where, when, or by whom, my homecare will be provided.

The sad fact is, Premier Redford, I don’t trust you. AT ALL.

But thanks for the laugh – I really needed it!!



A great start to my day - CAM 'n Eggs - June 4


(All this week I am sharing how home care makes me independent as a husband, father, grandfather, employee, taxpayer and so much more. The provincial government is making drastic changes to home care without any consultation with consumers of the service.)

Weekdays starts in the Tait household a little before 7 a.m. when I get out of bed myself using a pole at the side of our bed to get in my wheelchair. I wheel to my den to work on my computer for 45 minutes before my 10-year-old grandson Nicholas arrives. Nic always gives me a good morning hug and we visit and have breakfast together until my wife Joan drives him to school.

By then it is 8:30 a.m. A personal care assistant comes to help me get ready for work. They wheel me into the washroom off our bedroom and help me undress before getting me into a wheel-in shower. I am helped from my wheelchair to transfer onto a bath seat. My assistant adjusts the water temperature and showers me. When I am done, I get help drying off before getting assistance getting dressed — underwear, pants, shirts, socks, shoes — for the day. I am shaved and get brush my teeth after my assistant puts toothpaste on my toothbrush.

I wheel back into my den and my assistant packs my laptop into my computer bag with my lunch. My assistant helps me takes my vitamins and then wheels me out the front door. I leave for work at 9:30 a.m. I don’t have an assistant at the office, but my co-workers are very good about helping me when I need it.

COMING WEDNESDAY: The evening shift









Sunday, 2 June 2013

A very personal look at personal care


  
I respect and appreciate giving you details about my personal care may be a bit over the top, but it's  something I’ve decided to do. Because I am fearful of  my future independence. I have cerebral palsy, use a wheelchair and rely on personal care attendants for my basic daily needs. My wife Joan and I have lived in a condo for the past 17 years with hour home care.

Now, with provincial government cutbacks, that program is ending. A group of us with physical disabilities formed a corporation in 1996 to provide 24-hour home care in a newly-constructed condo building. We each own our units and pooled our home care funding to hire staff to assist us in our homes. We hire staff, administer the program and stress the importance of being in control of our own services. Essentially, we provide our own services to ourselves. It is one of a kind.

We received written notice from the provincial government Friday our program's contract will not be renewed.   Instead, an outside agency will be brought in to give us personal care, an agency who will have very little information — if any — of our consumer-based service which promotes independence. I am scared. I am unhappy. And I do not believe this is right. So over the next few days on my blog I am going to write about the wonderful staff I have been working with for years who let me be a husband, a father, a grandfather, an employee and so many other things.

So I am welcoming you intto our home — a home I hope to maintain with independence for many more years.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Friday's protest - UPDATED WITH NEWS STORY and YOUR COMMENTS!



(NEWS STORY FROM THE EDMONTON JOURNAL - 2:30 P.M.) 




The easy thing to do is grab placards,megaphones and wear T-shirts to express outrage.  And no doubt those things are going to surface today around the noonhour at the legislative grounds. A rally is planned to protest the government’s cut banks for people with developmental disabilities in Edmonton. I understand there’s fear and anger. I understand why people with disabilities and their families are going to express their emotions.

But is it time to take this to the next level? We’re entering unchartered water on several levels: a growing population with the number of people with disabilities increasing accordingly and a provincial government with — for whatever reason  — decreasing financial resources. Things have to change. Absolutely. 


And those changes are going to be across the board from assessments of service, to how programs how will run, to staffing, to many other things. On the other hand, people with disabilities have increasing needs that need to be addressed. To move forward, perhaps, we have to respect one another. We have to work with one another.
We have to have meaningful conversations. People with disabilities have gained the attention of the provincial government in the past few weeks. The government has heard, loud and clear, the unhappiness.
We need to move to the next stage of this.
We need both sides to talk; to come up with creative caring ways to move forward. 

From where I sit, today’s demonstration needs to be as peaceful as possible and a willingness of to listen to each other and work together. If not, I fear this story will only continue and frustrations, anger and fear will only rise.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Sutter's stare


  ot just about hockey.
Most National Hockey League coaches are stoic.
When their emotions are free falling on a rollercoaster, they look calm, cool and collected.
Sutter walks behind the Los Angeles King bench, rarely ever smiling. He sighs, twirls his tongue in the side of his mouth, raises his eyebrows, and generally looks like he could care less about the spirited mayhem in front of him. When the Kings score, he might smirk. But that’s it.When someone screws up, it’s the Sutter scowl, which could easily be sold as a Halloween mask and scare anyone.



Come to think about it, do farmers ever smile?
Perhaps it’s something we all can learn — to be on an even keel, not getting too high and not getting too low.
Just zone in on work to be done. And so we come to today when Sutter wakes up after a 2-1 Game  7 win over the San Jose Sharks to advance to the third round of the Stanley Cup final.He may crack a smile, but only for a second. Then, it’s back to work. And that could very well be a trait of success.


What is LA coach Darryl Sutter doing?



1. Running a powerplay drill
2. Running a passing drill
3. Practicing his shovelling technique for the farm in Viking


L.A. and the Sharks.
Game 7.
Tonight.
Enough said.