Lifetime Networks works with families to create a personal support network for their loved one with a disability. We know that for someone with a disability, a good life grows from a genuine circle of support that evolves and changes as life does.
A few years ago, our family decided to start building a network of support for our daughter, Julie. Extended family members live far away and our daughter, now 28 years old, only has one sibling. Making sure she has a supportive circle is particularly important as we plan for her future. Our family has been paired with Emmanuelle, a wonderfully patient and caring facilitator from the Lifetime Networks program.
Julie is passionate about country music and loves to have friends and to socialize, but her quiet and shy personality makes it challenging for her to make new friends. In the process of building her network, various happy coincidences have presented themselves. We have reconnected with a very special person, Catherine. When she was a student she worked with Julie, and Julie loved her. Through Facebook, Julie has also reconnected with Angela, a friend from elementary school.
With Emmanuelle’s support, Julie presented at the In the Spotlight event last fall. Her presentation resulted in a few young women expressing an interest to join her circle of support. One of them, Hatav, who had not recognized Julie from her seat in the audience, was one of Julie’s counsellors at Camp Misquah the previous summer. Hatav has now joined Julie’s network.
Even though Julie doesn’t worry about her future, and doesn’t mind spending time on her own, she would suffer from social isolation if her parents were not around. With the gradual building of her network, we have noticed an improvement in her self-confidence and a generally happier disposition. We certainly hope and pray for more happy coincidences in building this important circle of support.
To ensure that no one is left alone.
We believe in a future where people with disabilities:
- have the safety and security of strong personal relationships
- are part of a caring and vibrant community that encourages them to contribute
- experience a great quality of life surrounded by strong circle of support
- enjoy financial security
- Provide personal future planning for families with a relative with a disability
- Provide assistance through a trained community connector in the creation of a personal support network aimed at ensuring a safe and secure future for the person with the disability
- Provide network opportunities for families to meet and connect with one another
- Provide regular workshops for families and individuals. For example, on Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning, RDSP, etc.
- Provide recreational activities for individuals and their families.
Workshops on topics of interest are run throughout the year. The workshops are developed with the assistance of lawyers, financial planners, insurance companies etc. who are all experts on planning for people with disabilities.
Possible workshop topics include:
- Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning
- Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)
- Beyond Graduation
All families receive a copy of:
- Safe and Secure – a guide to creating a good life for people with a disability
TYZE online networking membership is available to Lifetime Network families at a reduced rate.
The generous support of The Fran Ages Recreational Fund allows families to host and organize events that are fun for all participants and may also be a networking opportunities for families to share concerns and successes with others. Administrative support is provided by Citizen Advocacy to the families who take on the leadership planning role for an event.
Twins, Greg and Paul Rorwick, are well known in their home community. Both are busy people, who work part-time jobs, volunteer and participate in Special Olympics. And they have that extra chromosome which means they have Down Syndrome.
Their parents want the best for their sons and this includes developing a supported but independent life. An important part of this plan is their personal support network. Their network has been growing, developing and strengthening over many years. During this time Paul and Greg have become more visible and involved in their community.
For more information please contact
Manager: Family Support
613-761-9522 ext. 223
Frequently Asked Questions
How does it work?
Lifetime Networks provides personal future planning for individuals and families with a child or relative with a disability and a network of support that will last a lifetime.
We provide information sessions on RDSPs, Wills and Estates, and financial planning for Lifetime Networks families.
Lifetime Networks hires and trains community facilitators to lead in the development of the support network. The community facilitator’s main role is to initiate and encourage the development of supportive relationships between the individuals with a disability and the members of his or her community.
Is it right for you?
Lifetime Networks provides personal future planning for families with a child or relative with a disability and a network of support that will last a lifetime, allowing the person with the disability to have a good life and a safe and secure future. If you are a person with a disability, a family member caring for one, a caregiver, a social worker, or other professional (financial planner, insurance broker or lawyer), then Lifetime Networks should be part of your overall support plan. Lifetime Networks provides this service through a caring and professional community facilitator who is in regular contact with the individual and manages their support network as it grows and evolves. For parents, it provides regular information sessions, workshops and opportunities to network with other families.
How long has Lifetime Networks been around?
Lifetime Networks was started in Ottawa in 1999 by a group of concerned parents. The organization merged with Citizen Advocacy Ottawa in 2010.
What is PLAN?
PLAN (Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network in Vancouver) is a membership-based organization, established by and for families committed to ensuring the safety, security and well-being of their relatives with disabilities.
What’s the connection between Lifetime Networks and Citizen Advocacy?
Lifetime Networks is an affiliate of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Networks (PLAN), and is one of many affiliates throughout North America. Citizen Advocacy and Lifetime Networks are all about building relationships and supporting people with disabilities to live a good life. Social inclusion and full community participation are at the core of everything we do at Citizen Advocacy and Lifetime Networks.
Won’t the government look after my son/daughter?
Families can absolutely rely on the government to provide food and shelter, programming and practical support. But life is about more than where you live and being kept busy. Life is about making choices, being in meaningful relationships, feeling supported in decision making and transition, being with people who genuinely care and are not paid to be with you. Paid care providers come and go and turnover is high – friendships can last a lifetime. We work to provide a good life now and in the future.
Who are your community facilitators?
Lifetime Networks recruits community facilitators who have a genuine interest in building relationships, a demonstrated connectedness to their own community, experience with people with disabilities, strong facilitation skills and an open mindedness. Community facilitators are supported around facilitation, network building and creative approaches to building relationships. The facilitator team meets regularly with the Program Coordinator to share ideas, experiences and network building strategies.
Are the community facilitators trained?
Yes, community facilitators receive basic core training to do their work and ongoing training and development.
Do I get to choose my community facilitator?
Yes. Individuals and families are encouraged to choose their own community facilitator and the Program Coordinator can make suggestions about which community facilitator might be a good fit, based on where they live, their goals, interests and personal fit.
Do I get to choose the members of my son/daughter’s Lifetime Network?
Yes. Individuals and families work closely with the community facilitator and identify people they would like to be invited into the network and potential relationships to explore. Individuals may have their own ideas of who they would like in their network and the community facilitator balances that with the family’s goal for certain types of support people. The ultimate goal is for a network to be made up of people who genuinely care about the individual and their family and who will have the ability to support the individual in the long term.
How long will it take for my son/daughter to get a Lifetime Network?
The length of time it takes to build a network is different for everyone. Some people join Lifetime Networks already having strong relationships and looking to formalize a network, some come with many community connections ready to be explored and some come to Lifetime Networks with little connection to their community and may even be new to the city. Building strong relationships which are sustainable and supportive is not a quick process, although we have also learned that people are often very receptive to being invited to support someone as part of a larger network or circle.
Why do families pay to have a personal support network built?
Lifetime Networks receives no government funding and relies on membership fees and fundraising efforts to remain independent and sustainable over the long-term.
How much does it cost?
The costs include:
- A one-time membership fee/donation (tax receipt issued)
- A monthly fee that includes hourly rates for a facilitator for six hours per month, administrative costs and facilitator training.
Can I use my Passport funding to create a personal support network?
Yes, up to $2,500 per year.
Can I get help towards the costs of this program?
No, Lifetime Networks receives no funding so subsidies are not available.
How is Lifetime Networks different from other programs?
Lifetime Networks is different than many other programs supporting people with disabilities because we put the individual and the family at the lead. You decide when and where to meet with the community facilitator, who to invite in the network, how to bring people together and what your goals are as a family. Lifetime Networks is about building relationships which are long-term and supportive, rather than counting hours of support or finding organized activities to keep an individual occupied. Lifetime Networks is a concept that can be moulded to match each individual and family, rather than a structured program with strict parameters.
I already have a person-directed plan do I need a personal support network too?
A network can help you implement your plan.
How can you be sure that Lifetime Networks will be around in the future?
Lifetime Networks in Ottawa is modelled after the award-winning PLAN program in British Columbia that has served over 5,000 families for more than 20 years. Twenty five percent of the individuals they support no longer have a parent still living. PLAN’s experience proves that the model works and is sustainable. As a PLAN affiliate we have access to their resources and benefit from their advice and experience.
Is this program only for adults?
No. It is never too soon to start planning for a good life for your loved one. Our members have children of all ages and abilities.
Do other organizations set up personal support networks?
Yes. There are other PLAN affiliates across the country. There are also programs that use the support network model but are not affiliated to PLAN.
Can I be involved without building a personal support network?
No, all members of Lifetime Networks are involved in a personal support network.