NDP announce overhaul to support programs for seniors and people with disabilities

Joanne Oostveen
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The Nova Scotia government says it is changing services and the way they are delivered to seniors and people with disabilities or those with mental health issues.

Premier Darrell Dexter made the announcement on Aug. 29 at Lake City Woodworkers on Windmill Road.

The changes will give the people who receive care more control, choice and independence, the Premier said.

"We want to move beyond the old institutional framework and into a model of care focused on putting people first."

Stephen Ayer, executive director at the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia, attended the announcement at Lake City, a non-profit organization where workers make wood furnishings.

"It is a good start," he said. "Although we still have people being discharged into substandard homes with little support. On a good note they are recognizing that changes need to be made. We are seeing movement and moving forward."

Edmund Denny has worked at Lake City for six years. He said he is glad someone is paying attention.

"I like my job and what we do here is important. We are important," he says.

Elaine Garland, who is on the board of directors at the Schizophrenia Society, says she would like to see what concrete changes will be made after this announcement.

"We heard a few things that were hinted at. We will see. We will never give up."

Although it may take 10 years to fully implement policy change, the announcement did outline three immediate actions: a single entry point will be set up for people in continuing care programs and for services for people with disabilities, a demonstration project will be launched that will help families develop their own community based housing solutions and new legislation is being developed that will replace the outdated Homes for Special Care Act.

The NDP said the changes were made based on input from families, advocates and employees.

This past spring, people shared their ideas about how to improve the support the province offers to people requiring longer-term care.

The government's news release said "action plans" based on recommendations from that consultation group, along with those from another 19-member advisory committee made up of government and community organizations, will be released in the coming months.

Organizations: NDP, Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Windmill Road

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