Court Confirms Attendant Care May Be Provided Remotely

Submitted by truser on February 4, 2015

By Robert M. Ben

Despite OSOT’s acknowledgement that attendant care can be provided remotely, there has been no authoritative jurisprudence on the subject until the recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in the case of Shawnoo v. Certas Direct Insurance Company, 2014 ONSC 7014.

In Shawnoo a brain-injured young woman named Misty struggled with medication compliance and overdoses, suicidal ideation, poor decision-making and judgment, and impaired impulse control. She relied heavily on her cell phone to establish alarms and reminders for medications and appointments, and to stay in contact with her attendants. She was assessed as requiring 24-hour attendant care to ensure her personal safety, which her family provided. Misty’s doctor indicated that her need for monitoring and supervision could be met by her family “checking in” through telephone calls, texting, emails and FaceTime.

Unfortunately, Misty’s insurance company refused to pay attendant care benefits, taking the position that attendant care services are not “provided” unless the attendant is physically present. When the question came before the court, the judge decisively dismissed the insurance company’s argument. According to the judge, nothing in the legislation prohibits attendant care services from being “provided” from a distance via electronic means and devices rather than in person, at least insofar as supervisory “custodial care” due to changes where an injured person’s behaviour is concerned.

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