Choice in Supports for Independent Living

Choice in Supports for Independent Living (CSIL) is a program offered in British Columbia. CSIL is an alternative way for people with disabilities in BC to receive home support services.

When a person has a life-threatening illness, they may require a substantial amount of care for a period of time. Home support services and palliative care benefits are available and helpful, and the support of family and friends, invaluable.

If the person has a severe disability that is not life-threatening, more support is required. CSIL can help create a rich life that is sustainable for the person with the disability, and the family and friends providing support.

From the website: The goal of CSIL is to provide more choice and flexibility to people with disabilities who have high-intensity care needs. CSIL employers receive funds to purchase their own home support services; they are responsible for recruiting, hiring, training, scheduling and supervising their own home support workers. Under CSIL, the person with the disability assumes the role of an employer with all of the rights and responsibilities that involves.

My nephew Trevor, who became quadriplegic at 20, applied for CSIL. Those with spinal cord injuries are classic recipients of this service, as their cognitive abilities are not impaired, but they have high physical needs. With the help of his parents and others he navigated the substantial paperwork and became part of the CSIL program. Trevor chose to hire people based on his needs and personality. For him, one person hired for a 24-hour shift was preferable to three people doing 8-hour shifts. His parents and siblings, and then he himself, trained them to care for him in a way that suited his needs. As his health stabilized and he went back to university, fellow students became his attendants. It warmed his mother’s heart to see him zipping off to class in his wheelchair, his attendant accompanying him on a skateboard. These employees became close friends, with him and with one another.

Having the ability to manage the money the government provides for your care in a way that suits your personality and disability, although it requires a substantial amount of effort, is empowering.

I write in the past tense because Trevor died in a random motor vehicle accident at 25. In a large part thanks to CSIL, the years he lived with his disability were full and rich. Gratitude to all of those who created the CSIL program in BC.

Written by Margaret Verschuur