Improving access to AISH supports

By rdnewsNOW
July 16, 2018 - 3:30pm

LETHBRIDGE -- New user-friendly Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) application forms and guides are hoped to make it easier for Albertans with disabilities to get the supports they need.

Community and Social Services officials say Albertans, community partners, AISH clients and doctors from across the province have helped create a more user-friendly process for Albertans with disabilities to obtain support. Improvements include a clearer, shorter application form that uses plain language and is tailored to relate to an applicant’s situation. 

Among other improvements, applicants and physicians are now able to complete the forms at the same time to streamline the process.

“We are taking action to remove barriers and improve access to AISH,” says Irfan Sabir, Minister of Community and Social Services, in a press release.” We are making changes so that the program is easier to access, more consistent and responsive to Albertans’ needs. There is better information in everyday language and coordinated supports to connect Albertans with the right services at the right time.”

Changes to the AISH system are said to have been implemented according to the AISH Action Plan which outlines recommendations by the auditor general, with all of these commitments now complete or in progress.

The AISH Action Plan includes a simplified application form and new guides that make it easier for Albertans to apply and understand the AISH program, the termination of a previous policy that limited the number of hours an AISH applicant could work in order to be eligible for the program and a new adjudication guide and training that help staff make consistent decisions.

Others include a streamlined application process that reduces the time it takes for Albertans to get eligibility information, improved procedures that support clear, individualized communication with Albertans about their applications and options for appealing a decision.

“It was rewarding to help field test the new AISH form and guides for individuals receiving AISH,” adds Sharon Rempel, Catalyst senior designer, Southern Alberta Community Living Association. “We were encouraged the materials were already written in plain language and that our suggested edits were incorporated. These resources have simplified the application process for our staff and individuals who apply for AISH.”

“We were excited AISH wanted to hear from us,” states Melody Scout, AISH client and field test participant. “I liked helping put the form into everyday language so it’s easier for people with disabilities to fill it out.”

In addition, AISH most recently introduced a new physicians’ guide with step-by-step instructions to the updated medical report.

“The Alberta Medical Association was pleased to provide input on the new AISH medical report and physicians’ guide,” says Dr. Lyle B. Mittelsteadt, assistant executive director of Professional Affairs, Alberta Medical Association. “Improving access to AISH and supporting Alberta’s most vulnerable populations is a priority for physicians. These documents will help us understand the AISH application process and better assist patients who apply.”

Albertans can get the complete AISH Action Plan update and new forms, guides and reports at alberta.ca/aish.

They can also call Alberta Supports at 1-877-644-9992 from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. for assistance and to find the nearest AISH office or Alberta Supports Centre.

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