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Relatives continue to provide care despite benefit limitations


When it comes to providing care to an injured individual, family members — not professionals — are most likely to move into a caregiving role, especially if the injury is not catastrophic, Ottawa personal injury lawyer Najma Rashid tells Law Times.

Attendant-care benefits have been limited to the amount of a family member’s actual economic loss since Feb. 1, 2014, Law Times reports, noting families have struggled to care for their relatives under the new regime.

And although there were expectations that families would turn to professional caregivers more often under the new rules, Rashid, a partner with Howard Yegendorf & Associates LLP, tells Law Times there has been a reluctance to do so.

“I think the reality is that unless someone is catastrophic and needs 24-hour nursing or personal support worker care, it is the families who continue to take care of the injured claimants,” says Rashid. “Unless the attendant has a provable income loss, then in most instances the attendant-care benefit will be less than the Form 1 amount.”

The legal publication discusses two recent developments that may provide some relief for families: new job-protected leaves for caregivers and a court decision — Shawnoo v. Certas Direct Insurance Co. [2014] O.J. No. 6213 — that extends attendant care to electronic monitoring through devices.

In Law Times, Rashid says years ago, parents of adult children with a disability could provide attendant care from a distance using an emergency button kept around their neck.

“In 2015, these same parents would have been connected to their child via iPhone, iPad, and other remote devices. The Shawnoo decision takes the attendant-care concept into the electronic age,” she says in the publication.

“I guess the next challenge for caregivers will be whether the insurance companies will agree to pay for their cellphone [or] wireless contracts or even remote home-monitoring systems. I think this is a great decision. It does change the attendant-care landscape.”