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Imagine this: an initiative that provides clients and family members with the resources they need to transition through various stages of adulthood.
"Toronto Rehab recognizes that, without the proper resources, planning for the future of a family member can be a daunting experience," says Dr. Mark Bayley, Program Medical Director & Physiatrist-in-Chief at Toronto Rehab.
"Toronto Rehab is dedicated to supporting clients and their families as they envision, voice and plan for the future, as both clients and their caregivers age."
Cue the new LIFEspan Future Cares Initiative. This initiative is an extension of the LIFEspan Service, which assists youth from age 18 to 30, living with childhood-onset cerebral palsy and/or acquired brain injury, successfully transition from the pediatric care they receive at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital to adult-based care.
Since the LIFEspan Service started in 2006, conversations between staff and families usually included this question: “What will happen to my son or daughter after I am no longer able to care for them and they have graduated from the LIFEspan service?"
In response to these conversations, the LIFEspan Future Cares Initiative was created in the hope of facilitating a seamless journey for clients and their families.
"Recognizing the gap in transition-related services for LIFEspan clients and families as they age into later adulthood, the Coriat family (longtime supporters of Toronto Rehab) came forward to fund a coordinated effort with us to provide this support," says Jac White, community support worker with Future Cares.
"We look forward to continuing to develop and expand our programming in the coming months."
Facilitating a seamless journey
Jac says the new initiative is heavily influenced by feedback from clients and families.
"The process is driven by clients and families who select the aspects of transition planning they would like assistance with," she says. "We then work with them to provide tailored support and referrals that suit their unique future planning needs."
Areas of interest include housing, finances, building meaningful social and recreational connections, managing health conditions and disability into adulthood, and other legal considerations.
For clients and families, this new initiative brings peace of mind that they will have the support they need at each stage of life.
This includes Saira Ikram, mother of Asadullah Asadullah, a client of the LIFEspan program who was diagnosed with childhood-onset cerebral palsy at birth.
Asadullah just turned 30 and will be discharged from the LIFEspan program later this year.
"What I love about the potential of this initiative is that it gives me hope my son will live a happy life, after I'm gone." says Saira.
"In the past, there was so much information I was juggling with online, whereas this initiative gives me the guidance and support I need, all in one place."
LIFEspan also brings together a network of community resources that can provide additional assistance to families.
"We are very fortunate to be engaged with LIFEspan," says Natalie Jones, Communications Manager for Partners for Planning, one of the community-based organizations in collaboration with LIFEspan. “It gives us a platform to share our work and connect with the families that need it most."