Dennis Anderson loves living at home in his downtown condo with his wife, Lessa, and their dog, Roxie.

For eight years, from 2005 to 2013, Dennis lived at Sherbrooke Community Centre, a long-term care facility in Saskatoon. The 56-year-old was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 30, and 15 years later, he was placed into long-term care at Sherbrook.

In May 2013, he was able to return home because of the Direct Client Funding program, which provides monthly funding to approved clients so their care needs can be met at home rather than in a long-term care facility.

Dennis Anderson and his wife, Lessa, in their home

Dennis Anderson and his wife, Lessa, in their home

“My mental attitude has changed 180 degrees since coming home through the program,” says Dennis. “I’m more content. One of the main benefits is the quiet. Peace and quiet is priceless.”

He also appreciates the small things, like being able to put up blackout curtains in his room and eat his wife’s cooking.

“For me, one of the biggest bonuses of living on my own is that I have my own barbecue,” says Dennis. “Lessa and I love to barbecue. We do it year-round.”

Dennis says the best part of the program is the freedom and dignity it provides, allowing him to make his own decisions.

“I love the ability to do what I want, when I want. To make my own decisions 100 per cent,” says Dennis, though he adds that his participation in the program would not be possible without his wife, who he married a year after returning home.

“If it wasn’t for Lessa, this is not something I’d be able to do,” he says of his wife and caregiver, who must be with him twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. To give Lessa respite, Dennis returns to Sherbrooke about twice a year for three to five days to receive care.

He also attends Sherbrooke’s day program twice a week, where he receives physiotherapy, plays bridge with a group of residents and participates in the centre’s art program. Two of his paintings were shown at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in British Columbia and others were featured in a group show at the Mendel Art Gallery.

When not painting, Dennis enjoys surfing the net, writing and accompanying his wife to the dog park and the city’s many festivals and events, like the Jazz Festival and Taste of Saskatchewan.

As part of Saskatoon Health Region’s 90 Days of Innovation: Ready Every Day initiative, the Community Strategies team is working to expand the Direct Client Funding program from 45 to 75 clients by January 2016.  

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