Welcome to DSO HNR

Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) helps adults with developmental disabilities connect to services and supports in their communities. There are nine DSO agencies across Ontario to serve you. To learn more about DSOs in general and/or to find information about your local DSO, please follow this link: www.dsontario.ca

The DSO in the Hamilton-Niagara region is called Developmental Services Ontario Hamilton-Niagara Region (DSO HNR). The DSO HNR is a program of Contact Hamilton. The DSO HNR serves the following communities: Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk, Hamilton, Niagara, Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. Please see below for more information!

Who We Work With

Developmental Services Ontario Hamilton-Niagara Region (DSO HNR) works with and on behalf of people that:
    1. Are 16 years of age or older AND
    2. Have a developmental disability AND
    3. Live in one of the following communities: Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk, Hamilton, Niagara, Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.

What is a Developmental Disability?

A developmental disability:
    • is present at birth or develops before 18 years of age
    • limits a person's ability to learn
    • is permanent
    • can be mild or severe
People with developmental disabilities learn, understand or remember things at a slower pace than others. This can affect the person’s language and social skills. It may also mean that the person may need help with daily life to be as independent and successful as possible.

Did you know that about one percent of Ontarians have a developmental disability? Some people were born with a condition that caused their disability. Others may have had a childhood illness, accident, or other reason for their disability. People with developmental disabilities can participate fully in their communities and contribute to the strength of our communities and our province.

What We Do

The DSO HNR does the following:

    1. We provide information to anyone who calls us wanting information about available services and supports in the Hamilton-Niagara region as well as information about how to access services. We also provide information about relevant legislation such as:

      a. Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act 2008
      b. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
      c. French Language Services Act
      d. Human Rights Code
    2. For people that want adult developmental services and supports, the DSO HNR confirms if the person is eligible.

    3. For people that are eligible for adult developmental services and supports, the DSO HNR assesses the person’s needs by helping the person and/or their support network apply for services. Once the application process is completed, recommendations about services are made. Referrals are made with consent.

Who Can Call Us?

Anyone can call us if they want information about what services and supports may be available for adults with developmental disabilities in the Hamilton-Niagara Region, for information about how to access services and/or information about relevant legislation. Consent is not required for general information requests. We receive lots of information requests from people with disabilities, their support networks, service providers, physician’s offices, other government offices, etc. Everyone is welcome.

Anyone can refer an adult with developmental disabilities to the DSO HNR for services and supports as long as they have appropriate consent to do so.
    • If you are referring a person aged 16 years of age or older, consent is required from that youth.
    • If the person requires the assistance of a substitute decision maker, then consent from the substitute decision maker is required. The person with the developmental disability should be as involved as possible/appropriate in providing consent.
    • NB: wherever possible and appropriate, consent will be obtained from the person with the developmental disability. At the very least, the person will be as engaged in the process as much as they are able.

How to Get In Touch With Us

If you need information or would like to apply for services and supports, you can reach us by:

Phone: 1-877-DSO-HNR4/1-877-376-4674 (this is a toll free line)
Fax: 905-667-0671
Toll Free Fax: 1-844-777-6663
Email: info@dsohnr.ca
Mail or in person:
      Developmental Services Ontario Hamilton-Niagara Region
      c/o Contact Hamilton
      140 King Street East, Suite 4
      Hamilton, ON
      L8N 1B2
The DSO HNR has offices in the following communities: Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk, Hamilton and Niagara. For a full listing of sites and their contact information, please click here.

How We Help – Youth 16 and 17 Years of Age

Youth wishing to apply for adult developmental services can begin the process at age 16 or 17. For most youth, a referral to the DSO HNR will be made (with consent) through their local Contact agency if they are registered there. However, youth and families can call the DSO HNR directly if they wish. For more details about this process, please click here. For youth ages 16 and 17 years, the DSO does the following:
    • Confirms whether the youth is eligible for adult developmental services when they turn 18 years of age
    • If they are eligible, completes the application package.
    • For details about these two processes, please see “How We Help – People 18 Years of Age and Older”.
Please note: referrals cannot be made for eligible applicants until they are at least 18 years of age.

How We Help – People 18 Years of Age and Older

First time callers and people that are not registered clients with the DSO HNR will speak with an Intake Coordinator.

      Providing Information

      If you are looking for information, the Intake Coordinator will listen to your request and provide you with the information you need. If this is all that you need, then the call will end here. You are welcome to call back any time in the future if you have new information or service needs.

      Confirming Eligibility for Adult Developmental Services

      If you are looking for services, the Intake Coordinator will need to make sure that the person is eligible for services. This is necessary before a person can apply for adult developmental services. Who is eligible for adult developmental services? In order to eligible, certain conditions must be met. These conditions or rules are made by the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS). To be eligible, one must:
        • Live in Ontario and
        • Be 18 years of age or older (eligibility can be confirmed at age 16 and 17 but referrals cannot be made until age 18) and
        • Have a confirmed developmental disability. A confirmed developmental disability depends on these three things:
          Cognitive functioning - this means a person’s intellectual capacity, including the capacity to reason, organize, plan, make judgments, and identify consequences.
          Adaptive functioning – this means a person’s capacity to gain personal independence, based on the person’s ability to learn and apply conceptual, social and practical skills in his or her everyday life.
          • These limitations must have started before the person turned 18 years of age, be life-long in nature, and affect a person’s personal care abilities, language skills, learning abilities, and ability to live independently.
      To confirm a person’s eligibility, the DSO HNR needs to look at a psychological assessment. If the person already has an assessment (e.g. through their school, a hospital, or another organization) you can give us a copy of this assessment. We will review it to see if they are eligible. If the person doesn’t have a psychological assessment, we will help you find out how and where to get an assessment done. Some assessments are publicly funded, which means you won’t need to pay, or you can choose to pay a psychologist to do one.

      If the DSO HNR determines that the person is not eligible for adult developmental services, the person will be advised that they have a right to request a review of that decision. The person will be given information about how they can do this.

      Some people are automatically considered eligible for adult developmental services and supports according to Ontario Regulation 414/12:
        • Adults with a developmental disability who were receiving support under the Passport program on April 1, 2012, or who transitioned from the Special Services at Home program (SSAH) to the Passport program on April 1, 2012;
        • Adults with a developmental disability who were on the SSAH waitlist as of March 31, 2012;
        • Children with a developmental disability receiving SSAH who turn 18 before March 31, 2013;
        • Children with a developmental disability who turn 18 between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013 who are on a waitlist for SSAH before they turn 18; and
        • Individuals who applied and were found eligible for adult services and supports under the Developmental Services Act between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2011 and began to receive support or were placed on a waitlist for support during that time.
      People who are covered by the regulation do not need to do anything to become eligible under the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act 2008 (SIPDDA) as the transfer of eligibility is automatic, as of January 1, 2013.

      Applying for Adult Developmental Services and Supports

      If the person is eligible, the Intake Coordinator will collect some basic information and assign an access coordinator. The Access Coordinator will schedule the application appointments. The person and at least one-two other people who know that person well should also attend the appointment. There are two application appointments; they each take 2-3 hours. This is because the process of getting to know the person, their wants, likes, dislikes and to assess the level of support that they need to be successful takes time. It also takes time to make sure that the person is part of the process as much as possible.

      The date and time of the application appointments will depend on everyone’s availability. Application appointments usually happen during the work day but appointments can be made in the evening and on weekends where this is required. Appointments occur in the person’s community, in a place where the person feels the most comfortable like their home, school, etc.

      At the appointment, the Access Coordinator completes two specific questionnaires (this makes up the application package):
        • Application for Developmental Services and Supports (ADSS)
        • Supports Intensity Scale (SIS)
      The Access Coordinator receives training on this application package and must be certified in order to use these questionnaires.

      Identifying Service Needs

      After the application is completed, the Access Coordinator talks to the person and their support network about the services in their community that may be able to help. The Access Coordinator considers all services and supports in the community, including natural, social, generic community and MCSS-funded options that could be helpful.

      With consent, the Access Coordinator will make any required referrals. Generally speaking, people in the greatest need will be considered first for services where they are a match with the service that is available.
        • Some referrals are made immediately: behaviour services, clinical services (e.g. social work, psychology, psychiatry and, swallowing assessments) and Adult Protective Services.
        • Some referrals are put on a registry list; referrals are made once there is a service opening and the person has been prioritized to receive it. This applies to the following referrals: residential services, day support or community participation supports and respite services. The DSO HNR does not determine priority; the agency that determines a person's priority for service is Haldimand Norfolk REACH.
      There may be a waiting period for some services like residential supports and day supports. The Access Coordinator will try to find other services and supports that can help the person while they wait for what they need to become available. At any time the person or their support network needs more information or their contact information changes (e.g. address, phone number) or their situation changes (there are new needs or the situation is getting worse), then the person or their support network, should call their Access Coordinator. The Access Coordinator will update the information that they have on file and, together with the person and their support network, they will determine what the next steps are, e.g. new referrals.

      The person and their support network are welcome to call their Access Coordinator with any questions. We are here to help.

Last modified: July 4, 2017

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