Attendant Services Overview

Definition of Attendant Services

Attendant Services are consumer-directed physical assistance with routine activities of daily living which a person with physical disabilities cannot perform because of the limitations or impairments resulting from a permanent physical disability. This assistance is provided by another person, an attendant. The consumer takes responsibility for the decisions and training involved in his/her own assistance.
Attendant services include bathing and washing, personal grooming and hygiene, dressing/undressing, toileting, transferring and positioning, meal preparation, assistance with eating, essential communications, etc.

Attendant Services do NOT include: professional services such as nursing care, physiotherapy, occupational therapy or physician services; respite care; supervision; “care” or taking responsibility for the person with a disability.

Historical Background of Attendant Services

Attendant services developed with the growth of the Independent Living Movement in the 1960s and are based on the Independent Living model of service rather than the medical/rehabilitation or charity models of service. The movement began in Berkeley with a group of students with disabilities at the University of California. The Independent Living Movement quickly spread throughout the United States and Canada.

Attendant services evolved out of the desire and the need of persons with disabilities to lead independent lives. They are a unique form of service which enables people with disabilities to live in the community. Before the advent of attendant services, most people with physical disabilities would have remained in chronic care hospitals, lived in institutions, or been cared for by family members long after the age when most non-disabled people would choose to live independently.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for attendant services, applicants must:

  • Be insured under the health Insurance Act of Ontario (i.e. have a valid Ontario Health Card)
  • Be at least 16 years of age or older
  • Have a permanent physical disability
  • Require ongoing personal support services i.e. physical assistance with activities of daily living including bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting
  • Be able to direct their own services. This means consumers are able to take responsibility for themselves; understand their support service requirements, understand what activities or procedures are necessary in meeting their service needs; are able to provide instructions to an attendant on how to carry out these activities or procedures.
  • Be able to have any medical/professional needs met by the existing community health network on a visitation basis

Different Attendant Service Options

Supportive Housing/ Shared Living

  • Supportive Housing providers typically offer several accessible apartments integrated throughout a larger apartment building.
  • Supportive Housing  providers offer Attendant Services on a pre-scheduled and on-call 24-hour basis.
  • Shared Living or group homes offers a communal home setting with attendant services. This option may be the preferred choice for consumers with limited capacity to self-direct or who have multiple service needs.

Attendant Outreach Services

  • Attendant Outreach Services are provided in the consumer’s home between the hours of 6 am and midnight on a pre-scheduled basis.
  • Services may also be provided in the place of competitive employment and place where consumers are pursuing adult education programs for the purpose of obtaining a degree/certification/diploma.
  • There is currently a ceiling of 90 hours of service per month.
  • Outreach cannot be provided on an on-call basis or as emergency services. Consumers are advised to have back-up support available.

Transitional and Life Skills Programs

  • Transitional and Life Skills programs provide the opportunity for learning and practicing the skills and accessing  resources necessary  to live and participate in the community.
  • Transitional Programs offer many of the same services as Supportive Housing program, as well as provide a training component.
  • Training may include learning how to: manage and use Attendant Services, manage personal finances, make use of community resources.
  • Transitional programs are generally time-limited, with the usual length of stay being 6 to 18 months.

Application of Attendant Services in Toronto and York Region

  • If applying to Attendant Service Options in the Toronto and York Region, individuals can apply through the Attendant Service Application Centre (ASAC), which is located at the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT).  ASAC is the centralized point of access for individuals with physical disabilities applying for Attendant Services Projects and Programs in Toronto and York Region. Please visit the  Attendant Service Application Centre (ASAC) page for details.
  • To request a set of ASAC Application Package, please contact Attendant Service Application Centre (ASAC) at 416 599 2458 or email asac.info@cilt.ca or you can download the ASAC Application Package from our website by clicking  ASAC Application page.

Other Attendant Service Options

Direct Funding (DF)

As an alternative to attendant outreach services or Supportive Housing units, Direct Funding enables adults with physical disability to take full responsibility for managing a budget and hiring and supervising their own attendants.

For more information, visit our Direct Funding page.

Attendant Service Projects and Programs Outside Toronto and York Region

Applicants applying for attendant services outside Toronto and York Region need to contact attendant service providers in their areas.  The Ontario Attendant Service Directory offers a searchable directory of attendant service options available in Ontario.

For more information, please visit our Ontario Attendant Service Directory page.

Student Assistance

Student Attendant Service Fund (SASF) is a temporary contingency fund for providing attendant services to students who have been assessed by an attendant service provider but are not yet receiving attendant services or when the student’s attendant service provider does not currently have the resources to provide attendant services for their post-secondary studies.

Students need to apply for attendant services from the service providers in the area where their colleges/universities are located. If the attendant service providers do not currently have the resources to provide attendant services to the students and require SASF, they will provide written confirmation and assessment result to ASAC.  Students will then be placed on the waitlist for SASF.  If funding is available, ASAC will contract service providers to provide attendant services to the students. As SASF is only a contingency fund which offers to students on a temporary basis, service providers are expected to continue to place the students on their waiting lists and absorb these students into their base budget on a priority basis if they can in the future so that the SASF can be used to support other students with disabilities

Students in Ontario who need attendant services to participate in post high school education or training programs can apply through the Attendant Service Application Centre (ASAC) for SASF.  For more information and to request an application form, please contact the Attendant Service Application Centre (ASAC) at 416-599-2458 or email asac.info@cilt.ca.