University of Victoria

Together we CanAssist.

Major funding boost for CanAssist

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CanAssist at UVic has received $4.5 million from the provincial government to provide technologies to two vulnerable groups in BC — seniors with dementia and children with special needs.

Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell was at UVic April 5 to announce the two grants:

  • $3 million will extend CanStayHome, an ongoing CanAssist initiative that involves developing technologies to improve the independence and safety of vulnerable seniors, particularly those with dementia; and
  • $1.5 million will enable CanAssist to produce and supply existing assistive technologies to service providers across BC to support children and youth with special needs.

From left: CanAssist client Susan Jensen; CanAssist Executive Director Robin Syme; Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation; Nancy Wright, UVic's AVP Academic Planning"Here in British Columbia, we are very fortunate to have access to the expertise and specialized
technologies that CanAssist provides to people with disabilities throughout the province," said Minister Stilwell.

"Today's announcement ensures CanAssist can continue providing unique services that will help
extend the length of time seniors can stay in their home and increase the independence of
children with special needs."

Examples of technologies CanAssist has developed as part of CanStayHome include a wandering redirect system, an easy-to-use manual wheelchair/scooter lift for vehicles (featured in photo gallery below), and a phone-in monitoring system that makes it possible for caregivers to learn about their vulnerable loved one's movements while the person is home alone.

CanAssist client Susan Jensen (shown in the photo at the top of the page) was at Wednesday's announcement to describe how the technology she and her husband received has changed their lives.

“The easy-to-use scooter lift for our vehicle is a necessity for both my husband Ken's health and mine,” Jensen said. “We are so grateful and want to thank everyone involved for the amazing place called CanAssist.”

Part of the $3M grant will be used to support the completion and launch of CanAssist's Ability411 website, which will provide easy-to-access information about assistive technologies for seniors and their caregivers. The website's official launch is expected in late Fall 2017.

The second grant of $1.5 million from the Ministry of Children and Family Development will go towards producing and supplying existing assistive technologies to service providers throughout the province to further support children and youth with special needs.

“CanAssist would not be what it is today without the funding over the years from the BC government, including the new investments announced today,” says CanAssist Executive Director Robin Syme. “Along with all the generous individual donations and ongoing infrastructure and resource support from UVic, the provincial funding has kept us going in more ways than one.”

Technologies provided to children range from making it possible to participate in recreational activities to aids that support early intervention. They include:

  • a BatSwinger, to assist with swinging a bat and enable participation on T-Ball teams;
  • the Choices2Go software app ,which provides in-the-moment choice-making opportunities for children who may not otherwise be reliably understood; and,
  • a Mobile Music Therapy Kit, to enable classes of up to six individuals to create music independently or as a group.

For additional information, please see the provincial government's news release.

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