"Attendant services" refer to physical assistance provided by another person for routine activities of living, such as transferring, showering, dressing or undressing. You would do these for yourself if it were not for your physical disability. The consumer takes responsibility for directing the way in which this assistance is provided.
Please note: Attendant services do not include services such as physiotherapy, rehabilitation, life-skills teaching, active nursing, socializing, etc. Some of these professional services are provided through Community Care Access Centres (CCACs).Return to question list
The Direct Funding (DF) Program is administered by the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT), Inc. in partnership with the Ontario Network of Independent Living Centres (ONILC). It is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care through the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network.
Different people have different needs. DF is intended as an option suited to people with physical disabilities who are willing and able to take on the extra management responsibilities the program demands.
If you are using attendant services delivered by CCAC, Assisted Living in Supportive Housing/Support Services Living Units (SSLUs) or Attendant Outreach Services, an agency employs attendants and sends them to your apartment or house. Direct Funding is different; on DF you are the employer, taking full responsibility for recruiting, hiring, scheduling and paying your own attendants. You become the employer (or the self-manager), determining how and when your services are provided.
DF began as a pilot project developed by consumers and the provincial government in 1994. It was so successful that it became a permanent program in July, 1998.Return to question list
CCACs and other referral sources should consider the following when referring a client to the Direct Funding program:
DF operates within guidelines set by the Ontario government. You can apply if:
The amount of service is individually negotiated. Current guidelines specify that the total service funded for any one individual is a maximum of 7 hours per day (212 hours per month).Return to question list
Funds are provided monthly to DF participants. Expenditures must be properly accounted for and are reported quarterly (every three months). Appropriate forms and instructions are provided. Funding is also available for payroll and bookkeeping assistance.As a participant in the program, you must be able to:
A legally binding agreement between the participant and CILT sets out the budget, program rules and regulations and specifies allowable expenditures. /
The DF budget also includes funds to cover a portion of liability insurance related to the attendants who work in peoples' homes.Return to question list
As an employer of personal attendants, there are responsibilities involved in managing the funds and the above list can look daunting, but all of these duties are currently carried out by approximately 700 self-managers across the province on a regular basis. If you are thinking of self-management but are concerned about the responsibilities, we would encourage you to talk to your local DF Resource person.
If you are interested in applying to this program, you can download the application guide and the application from this website or you can request these documents from your local ILRC. It is important to read the Direct Funding Application Guide before completing the application, because it lists the full eligibility criteria, explains how to complete a self-assessment of your needs, how to plan your attendant services and how to prepare a budget, all of which will be part of your application.. Direct Funding Resource staff at each of the ILRCS across the province are there to help you, especially if you need physical assistance to complete the application.
After you have completed your application form and mailed it to the DF Program at CILT, you will get written confirmation that your application was received. The next step is an in-person interview with your local ILRC. The current wait for an interview is approximately two years.Return to question list
A selection panel, which will include a consumer of attendant services from your region, a representative from the local ILRC and/or a representative from CILT, will meet with you to review your application and determine your eligibility for the program. A budget will be negotiated at that meeting.Return to question list
If you are eligible for the program, you will be sent a standard agreement to sign. You will also receive a comprehensive resource kit which includes instructions on how to get started. You will receive tips on recruiting, employing and supervising your own attendants, and managing your finances, as well as information on employment and tax laws, employer/employee relations, labour and employment standards, payroll issues and accounting procedures.Return to question list
We strongly advise applicants to the program to contact the Direct Funding Resource person at their local ILRC. Resource staff can answer questions on eligibility requirements and the application process, provide physical assistance to complete the application and/or connect applicants with participants who can share their experiences. Furthermore, ILRCs provide information and support to new applicants and participants and may also provide orientation sessions, peer networking and advice, and general disability information and referral.Return to question list
In an evaluation of Direct Funding, conducted by the Roeher Institute, most self-managers (89% of survey respondents) said they were "very satisfied" with their participation in the Direct Funding Program. In fact, all respondents reported they would recommend DF to others.
Self-managers value the greater flexibility and control over their attendant services made possible by DF. Some have even experienced increased opportunities for paid employment and career advancement as a result of DF.
The same evaluation found more than 90% of the attendants surveyed reported being "very satisfied" or "generally satisfied" with their jobs. Attendants also indicated that positive spin-offs of the employer/employee relationship (as compared to the more traditional service provider/client relationship) included increased mutual respect and flexibility for both self-manager and attendant, and improved accountability.
The Direct Funding program provides a range of resources available to self-managers through ILRCs. Self-managers participating in the evaluation highly valued the support provided by ILRCs in addressing issues and supplying practical information.Need a question answered? Contact your local ILRC for more information.
The Direct Funding Program is being expanded to allow more Ontarians with disabilities to live independently in their homes.
You can read more about this in our News Release.