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Ombudsman Report on Developmental Service System and Ministry’s Response

(Thornhill – August 25, 2016) – The Ministry of Community and Social Services’ immediate response and acceptance of all recommendations made by the Ontario Ombudsman’s report is a reflection of its commitment to improving the service system and strategies to reduce crisis situations for people with developmental disabilities living in Ontario.

In the report “Nowhere to Turn” released yesterday, the Ontario Ombudsman provided 60 recommendations for improvement to services for adults with developmental disabilities.

The 1990s reflected the beginning of the dialogue across various government ministries. Reena has maintained a dialogue between service providers and government. We have worked closely with researchers, medical professionals, police and the justice system, community services and health care providers to develop best practices for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Reena is the lead agency on the Ontario Partnership on Aging and Developmental Disabilities (OPADD), a collaborative cross-sector committee with representation from the Ontario Ministry of Social Services and provincial organizations in both health and social services. OPADD’s strength is also within the many cross sector regional committees that have undertaken innovative approaches to developing joint models of support. They have paved the way for improved communications and cross training to help build bridges and understanding between agencies funded through different ministries.

Reena has also developed partnerships with government ministries and service organizations to support individuals with complex needs. Working with March of Dimes Canada and the Central CCAC, a Complex Care Model was developed and funded by both the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services. Using a community based housing model, individuals with complex needs are supported at the Reena Community Residence.

Bryan Keshen president and CEO of Reena noted that “Innovative housing models are essential in responding to crisis situations. While an immediate response is necessary, without appropriate housing solutions, neither proper crisis support or long term planning can be effectively established and implemented.”

Currently, Reena is responding to the challenge of inadequate housing options by building a home for individuals with developmental disabilities and significant behavioural challenges. The home is specially designed to provide a unique environment that positively impacts individuals with ASD and behaviour challenges. This reduction in behaviour along with appropriate supports for more complex individuals enables community living for individuals that previously had frequent crisis and hospitalizations. Reena is also planning, with a consortium of agencies, the development of mixed use housing that can meet the needs of hundreds of individuals in transition from hospitals, family homes and crisis situations across the province.

“We know that the concerns raised by the Ombudsman are not limited to changes with the Ministry of Community and Social Services. We all have a role to play in developing innovative solutions in partnership with other agencies and organizations funded through other ministries, individuals seeking support and their families” said Sandy Stemp, Chief Operations Officer of Reena.

The Ombudsman’s report highlights the need for individuals, families, service providers and ministries to work together to build an inclusive community which supports the whole person. By working together, strategies can be developed that improve support systems and reduce crisis situations for individuals with developmental disabilities.

To view the Ombudsman Report click here
To view the Ministry’s Response click here