- How much does the service cost the student?
The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care funds the Attendant Services Program for all students who are residents of Ontario, therefore there is no cost for these students. Canadian students from outside of Ontario, and international students will be sponsored by their own governments for a portion of their attendant services expenses. The current rate of sponsorship for non – Ontario residents is $100 per day for 24 hour service.
Although there is no cost for the service, clients of the program contribute money (maximum $100) each year towards the cost of a group purchase of medical and cleaning supplies.
Other client responsibilities include meeting with the Executive Director at least once per year to review your service and plan for future housing requirements, striving to be independent, directing your own service, and arranging alternate service provision during the Christmas shutdown, maintaining your room so that is a safe workplace for the attendants, providing your own purchasing adaptive equipment, including equipment that the program deems necessary for safety reasons.
A complete list of responsibilities is included in the Service Agreement.
- Who do I speak with if I have a question or concern?
It depends on what your concern is. If it involves your attendant services, the Team Leader is a good place to start.
The Executive Director answers questions regarding the overall operation of the service. Academics should be addressed to an academic advisor, or if it involves academic accommodation relating to your disability, you should consult the Centre for Students with Disabilities (Algonquin) or the Paul Menton Centre (Carleton). The attendants may be fellow students, but since they are not qualified to give academic advice, they are precluded from doing so.
If the concern is with your accommodation you should speak with Campus Living (Algonquin) or the Department of Housing and Food Services (Carleton).
- Do the attendants go to class with me?
No, the attendant remains primarily in the residence complex so that they may respond to calls from other clients. If you need accommodation in the classroom (a notetaker for example) this request should go to the Centre for Students for Disabilities (Algonquin) or the Paul Menton Centre (Carleton).
In some cases, clients may need assistance getting to class, but the attendant would not remain there. Most of the service provided happens within the residence complex. At Algonquin, the cafeteria is located within the main campus, so there is more service provision on campus at Algonquin than at Carleton.
- When are attendants available, and how do I get in contact with them?
Attendants are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at both Carleton and Algonquin. There will be a shutdown over Christmas at both locations, the exact dates vary each year depending on exam schedules. Clients of the program must find alternative accommodation during this time.
The service at Algonquin runs from the last week of August until the end of April depending on demand. The Carleton program operates year round (except for the Christmas break). You should consult on exact opening and closing dates before arriving in August or making travel arrangements at Christmas.
The attendants on duty carry a cell phone. Call the number at any time, the attendant should answer right away.
- If I am going to Algonquin, but need attendant services in the summer, what should I do?
You have the option of living at Carleton during the summer. You do not have to be a Carleton student to live on campus between May and August, so some students may choose to live and receive attendant services at Carleton.
- What else do I need to know?
You must be able to direct your own care. The attendants are there to help but they follow your direction.
You must also be ready to take on some adult responsibilities so you need to know how to manage your own financial affairs, direct staff how you like your laundry done, etc.
- Where are the attendants from?
The attendants are paid employees of the Attendant Services Program drawn from the student populations of Carleton and Algonquin. They are selected and then evaluated by clients of the program.
- What happens in the event of a fire?
Students with disabilities have the same obligations to learn and follow evacuation procedures. However, since students with disabilities may not be able to evacuate the building they are special measures in place to ensure your safety. Attendants will check on you, prepare you for evacuation, and alert the proper authorities of your situation in case evacuation becomes necessary. You will need to learn the procedure soon after moving in.
In other emergencies, both campuses have Safety departments that are on duty 24 hours per day. In an emergency you should call them, at extension 4444 (Carleton), or extension 5000 (Algonquin). It is important that you phone them, not 9-1-1 when you are on campus. The Safety department will call 9-1-1, meet emergency personnel and direct them to your location. If you call 9-1-1 directly it may cause a delay in receiving assistance.
- I'm still a little confused by the term 'attendant services', what does the program provide, exactly?
The program provides non-medical assistance with every day tasks such as transferring, using the washroom, grooming, cutting up food, assistance with eating, etc. Staff are also available to do other tasks which you may not be able to independently such as cleaning, carrying laundry, and setting up books.
You can call for assistance any time of day.
Generally staff are prohibited from performing medical procedures.
In addition, attendants will not assist with the following: shopping, homework, wake-up calls, cleaning up after guests and moving.
- I'm nervous about everything. Is this typical?
Being nervous about such a big change is normal, usually though the parents are more nervous than the student. Many students are homesick in the beginning, and really look forward to going home for a visit at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Once you settle in though you may want to move in and stay all year around.
- I have never lived away from home before. Should I be worried about living on campus?
Every student, not just students with disabilities make this transition. If you are not from the Ottawa area, you are in the same situation as most students in our program. We have had clients from almost every province, the USA and Germany.
Again, the biggest adjustment is for the parents. Since the parents are normally the primary caregivers for so long, it takes a shift in attitude to understand that their son or daughter needs to move away from home to receive the best possible education. It is a difficult transition for all parents, but particularly so for parents of child with a disability.
Most students will look back at their college or university years as the best in their lives.
- How will my care differ from what I receive at home?
It may differ in a couple of ways if, like most of our clients, you are coming to us directly from your parents.
(1) While your parents may have been able to give you undivided attention, the attendant on duty must consider the needs of all the clients. Therefore you will be expected to request assistance for only those tasks which you cannot do independently (or with significant difficulty). Our aim is for you to be more independent when you leave so that you will be prepared for the community.
In some cases, the students find that they receive more service from the attendants than at home. This is because the attendants are available 24 hours a day, parents are too – but they need their rest. At Carleton and Algonquin, if you want pizza at 2am – go for it.
(2) While you will be recognized as the primary expert in regards to your own needs, the staff may need to perform some parts of your routine differently to ensure that they are safe. These changes to your routine are developed in consultation with a Team Leader.
(3) Other practises, which may not have been necessary at home, may be in place to ensure the safety of the staff and clients. As an example, staff may request to use gloves for some activities so that they do not transfer bacteria to themselves or to other clients.
(4) At home you may have received service from your parents only, or from very few people overall. At Carleton or Algonquin, you will receive service from different staff members. It may take a little time to get to know the different staff members, but the friendships that are formed are a great benefit to staff and clients.
- Why do I need to sign a service agreement?
Attendant services are crucial to many students with disabilities. Depending on the level of disability, some individuals simply cannot function without a proper service being in place.
Since this is so important, there needs to be a basis upon which the service is provided. The service agreement is really a contract that sets out the responsibilities of each party. The agreement includes an individualized service plan since the needs of each student are different. Taken together then, the service agreement spells out your needs (from information gathered by the Team Leader and from your application) and our offer to accommodate your needs. It also lists the responsibilities of each party. An important section of the service agreement is the Client Bill of Rights set out by the Ministry of Health.
- What should I bring with me?
This varies, different things are provided between the two campuses, so you should check your residence package. Generally the rooms are fully furnished but you will need to bring all of your own medical supplies and adaptive equipment.
Since the attendants do cleaning for you, the program offers a standard supply of cleaning products and other supplies. You can purchase, from the program a complete set of supplies for your room in September, the one time cost will include refills of all supplies.
If you have questions about furniture or appliances, check your residence package or direct this question to the Department of Housing and Food Services (Carleton) or Campus Living (Algonquin).
- Are there any risks involved in being a client of the program?
There are very few risks involved in being a client of the program. If you have a high level disability and you choose to live on campus rather than in a medical long term care facility, there may be a risk inherent in that decision.
- What if my disability makes full time studying difficult? Can I attend part time?
Yes, you can attend either Carleton or Algonquin part time, and you will be eligible to live in residence. If you inquire at the Housing department of either school and get a different answer, do not worry but call Matthew immediately. Since the policy for part time students with disabilities applies to relatively few residence students, not everyone is aware of the policy, but it has been in place for many years.
- Living out of town and in the residence seems expensive. Are there any additional supports available?
You should always apply to OSAP (student loans) because if you are eligible for a loan, even for a small one, you become eligible for the Bursary for Students With Disabilities and that can assist in providing funding for education expenses related to your disability. Also, if you receive funding under the Ontario Disability Support Program you can apply to get your amount increased. You should receive the maximum of $930 per month, which will cover almost all of your residence expenses (a single room, heat, hyrdo, and meals). Remember as well that you will be provided with 24-hour attendant care at no charge.
- Is each campus accessible?
Neither one is perfect, but both are very accessible.
Algonquin recently won an award for its accessibility. Travel by wheelchair is very easy as most of the buildings are linked by above ground causeways. The residence building is very accessible. The building was constructed in 2000 and has had two additions since then. Attendant services provided an advisor on the expansion projects to ensure accessibility.
Carleton is the most accessible campus in Canada. Every building in linked by well lit, well travelled tunnels that are ideal for wheelchairs. You can travel from your residence room to any classroom on campus without ever going outside – which is great in the winter, no worries about icy ramps or fumbling with winter clothing. Other aspects of the campus are accessible too, including athletics facilities and the library. There is considerable consultation for new buildings and Carleton dedicates a minimum of $80,000 per year to retrofit other buildings. Two new residence buildings that have opened recently exceed all accessibility codes.
- What are the essential aspects that make for a successful student and participant in the program?
There are a few key practises that seem to dramatically increase the probability of academic success, and satisfaction with the Attendant Services Program. These include:
(1) registering early with the Centre for Students with Disabilities (Algonquin) or the Paul Menton Centre (Carleton),
(2) having emotional and financial support from family,
(3) putting forth a concerted effort towards academics right from the beginning of the year,
(4) taking some time to meet new people and experience new things on campus
(5) giving feedback to a Team Leader on an ongoing basis.
- Can I visit campus to see all of the facilities and discuss my needs?
It is highly encouraged and we would be pleased to meet with you any time. We can arrange a personalised tour to show you around campus including the residence buildings. We can also discuss your attendant services needs and you will have an opportunity to meet some of the attendants.
You may also want to stay for a few days in the summer before you arrive for school. This will give you an opportunity to meet some attendants and get a feel for the program.