PDD requests cuts to funding and services while expending funds and resources
on assessing 9200 individuals with developmental disabilities

CALGARY, Jan. 8 /CNW/ - Please see the following information regarding PDD requests to cut funding while expending funds and resources on assessing 9200 individuals with developmental disabilities.

Media News Release

    
    PDD requests cuts to funding and services while expending funds and
    resources on assessing 9200 individuals with developmental disabilities
    

While many agencies providing supports to individuals with developmental disabilities have refused to reduce services, some are cooperating and reductions have occurred. The Persons with Developmental Disabilities program (PDD) is continuing in its efforts to claw back funding. In addition we do not know what the budget reductions for PDD will be as of April 1, 2010, only that there will be further reductions and that these will impact individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. In this last year we saw some programs disappear while waiting lists grow for needed services. Increasing numbers of individuals are denied supports or provided very little of what they actually need.

Yet at the same time PDD has announced it has the funding and government staffing to begin to assess every individual receiving services (approximately 9200). Currently PDD is asking individuals and their families, primarily through agencies, to participate in such an assessment. The absurdity of this is that at the same time PDD is reducing services without consideration of individual needs. See attached information.

Bruce Uditsky, CEO, noted, "Some individuals will now be asked to agree to an assessment of need and required funding while at the very same time their services and funding have just been arbitrarily reduced. We do not understand how this makes sense to anyone. Limited public resources should first be expended on ensuring supports, not on government staff by assigning them to conduct assessments that now have no validity."

If PDD is genuine in its wish to better individualize its supports then it would stand to reason PDD would have to remove the guidelines established by the Calgary PDD Region that limit support, halt any requested reduction in supports and services, reassure families as to how SIS would actually benefit their sons or daughters and not place them at risk and publicly commit and be held accountable for ensuring needed supports and services are available.

Wendy McDonald, President, stated, "We call upon Minister Jablonski to establish a more important priority than assessment - one that actually ensures supports and services will be provided and sustained."

    
                       Stop the Cuts: Remove the Fear


    Open Letter to Families who have Sons and Daughters with Developmental
    Disabilities and Community Service Providers
    

RE: Supports Intensity Scale (SIS)

While many agencies providing supports to individuals with developmental disabilities have refused to reduce services, some are cooperating and reductions have occurred. The Persons with Developmental Disabilities Program (PDD) is continuing in its efforts to claw back funding. In addition we do not know what the budget reductions for PDD will be as of April 1, 2010, only that there will be further reductions. In this last year we saw some programs disappear while waiting lists grow for needed services. Increasing numbers of individuals are denied supports or provided very little of what they actually need.

Yet at the same time PDD has announced it has the funding and government staffing to begin to assess every individual receiving services (approximately 9200) by using the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS). The stated purpose of applying this Scale is to help ensure a more equitable distribution of funds and to better determine what level of support is needed (which translates to how funding will be allocated individually).

These types of scales are not new and, in fact, other types have been used in the past, with similar claims. They were all found, in time, to be ineffective and inefficient. Often these assessments did not result in individualized supports but the allocation of funding and supports on the basis of a score, level of functioning or category of disability. Whether SIS will be different remains to be seen.

Currently PDD is asking individuals and their families, primarily through agencies, to participate in a SIS assessment. We would like to raise a few points with respect to this request, before individuals, families and agencies agree to participate.

On principle we do not believe individuals and families should agree to participate in something PDD wants to administer, until PDD establishes a genuine relationship of openness and trust with individuals, families and agencies. A trusting relationship cannot be built when PDD continues to attempt to unilaterally reduce services and funding. Limited public resources should first be expended on ensuring supports not on government staff by assigning them to conduct assessments.

If PDD is genuine in its wish to better individualize its supports through SIS, then it would stand to reason PDD would have to remove the guidelines established by the Calgary PDD Region that limit support, halt any reduction in supports and services, reassure families as to how SIS would actually benefit their sons or daughters and not place them at risk and publicly commit and be held accountable for ensuring needed supports and services will be available.

One of the Minister's stated priorities is the use of an assessment to determine need. In requesting individual and family cooperation in this assessment we call upon the Minister to establish a more important priority - one that ensures supports and services will be provided. A family's vision for their son or daughter to have a good life and the supports needed to that end might exceed the results of a SIS assessment. The quality of a person's life across the entirety of their adult years should not be negated by virtue of the inherent limitations in any assessment tool.

We believe, given the current situation, there is much greater risk in participating in a SIS assessment, than not. It is up to PDD and Minister to reestablish the trust necessary so families and individuals could participate in a SIS assessment without fear or apprehension. While PDD may challenge an individual or family who refuses to participate, this challenge can be met. AACL stands prepared to utilize all its resources in protecting the interests of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

If you have any questions, require more information, want to take a principled stand against this misuse of government funds under the current circumstances, are challenged or confronted by PDD, than please feel free to contact us. We are more than willing to discuss your options, answer your questions and defend your rights.

ALBERTA ASSOCIATION FOR COMMUNITY LIVING

Sincerely

    
    Bruce Uditsky
    Chief Executive Officer


          Points for individuals, families and agencies to consider
         in replying to PDD's request to participate in an assessment
                  using the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS).

    How can individuals and families trust this assessment when:

    1) at the very same time PDD is actively trying to reduce supports and
       services, it claims it wants to assess individuals to determine the
       supports they require to be successful in community? History teaches
       us when this type of contradiction occurs, the outcome will be a
       reduction in services and funding.

    2) the SIS assessment will be completed by PDD staffs that are required
       to try and reduce services and funding? PDD staff cannot claim
       objectivity and are clearly in a conflict of interest as government
       employees, given government's active efforts to reduce funding and
       services.

    3) PDD has not released the results of its recent pilot study on its use
       of SIS. Why the secrecy or delay in publicly reporting these results
       prior to asking people to agree to being assessed?

    4) the Minister chose to deliberately proceed with cuts to services and
       funding without informing families or requiring their involvement in
       any such reduction. This lack of transparency and integrity raises
       questions as to whether PDD might use the results of this new
       assessment to reduce services and funding further.

    5) PDD claims the SIS assessment will be used to determine individual
       needs, meanwhile the Calgary Persons with Developmental Disabilities
       Community Board has implemented guidelines, again without any
       consultation with families, that limit the supports an individual can
       receive irrespective of their individual needs. In particular these
       guidelines limit supports and funding to those with the most
       significant disabilities.

    6) the Minister has failed to assure families and individuals that no one
       will have their services or funding reduced if they agree to
       participate in a SIS assessment.

    7) the government established a new regulation that limits who can access
       PDD funding and services. This includes, new guidelines that require
       those who might be eligible, to go through repeated testing in the
       hopes of a resulting test score that might make the person ineligible.

    8) government developed its own test, without any consultation with
       families, to determine if individuals are eligible for PDD supports.
       PDD staff also administer this test. In addition, this test is not an
       accepted tool nor has it undergone standardization as a reliable
       psychological measure.

    9) some individuals and families who have already had their funding and
       services reduced, without their involvement, will now be asked to
       agree to a government administered assessment, using highly paid
       government staff, to supposedly determine the very individual needs
       PDD just ignored. This is theatre of the absurd.


    Government of Alberta
    Seniors and Community Supports
    Persons with Developmental Disabilities

    Fact Sheet - Common Approach to Assessment and Funding

    Priority Action No. 3  Common Approach to Assessment and Funding
    Introduction
    

In 2009, Alberta Seniors and Community Supports introduced changes to strengthen the PDD program, which supports about 9,200 adults with developmental disabilities.

The purpose of these changes is to improve the PDD program to ensure it is responsive to individual needs, results in positive outcomes for people it supports, and is sustainable into the future.

The priority actions focus on improving clarity and consistency, increasing effectiveness and efficiency, and ensuring long-term program sustainability. As part of the priority actions for the PDD program, the Minister of Alberta Seniors and Community Supports approved the use of a common assessment tool and development of a consistent funding approach for the PDD program.

Assessment Tool

    
    The use of a consistent assessment tool will:
    -  Ensure the PDD program is more responsive to the identified needs of
    individuals;
    -  Ensure the process for determining individual support needs and
    funding allocation is more transparent, equitable, consistent and
    accountable;
    -  Ensure the service system is more responsive to, and directed by, the
    needs of individuals; and,
    -  Support individuals to be as independent as possible and included in
    community life.

    Supports Intensity Scale

    -  The PDD program will use the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) as the
    common assessment tool to determine individual support needs and related
    funding.
    -  The SIS is designed to measure the level of supports that people with
    developmental disabilities need to be connected with their community. It
    measures the frequency, amount and type of supports an individual needs
    to participate in areas such as home living, community living, lifelong
    learning, employment, health and safety, and social activities.
    -  PDD staff will use the SIS during an interview with the individual, as
    well as two people who know the person well , such as a family member,
    support worker, or friend.
    -  Starting in November 2009, all individuals new to the PDD program will
    be assessed using the Supports Intensity Scale.
    -  Starting in January 2010, all individuals already being supported by
    the PDD program will begin being assessed. These assessments will be
    completed over the next three years to ensure the supports individuals
    are receiving are appropriate to meet their needs.
    

SOURCE Alberta Association for Community Living

For further information: For further information: Bruce Uditsky, Chief Executive Officer, Alberta Association for Community Living (AACL), 11724 Kingsway, Edmonton, AB, T5G 0X5, Tel. (780) 451-3055 Ext. 228, Toll Free 1-800-252-7556, Fax (780) 453-5779, Cell (780) 940-4269, Email: buditsky@aacl.org, Website: http://www.aacl.org; Wendy McDonald, President, Phone: (780) 974-1310, Email: possibilityworks@shaw.ca

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Alberta Association for Community Living

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