GPS for People Living with Multiple Sclerosis

The Cause

For people living with multiple sclerosis, accessing government, social, health and community supports and services can be an insurmountable barrier. Some of the barriers people living with MS face are access to and issues with long term disability, income supports, employment, healthcare, insurance, transportation, and even discrimination. Due to the complex nature of MS, financial circumstances and mobility issues, people with MS often cannot access or know where to turn for support. It is our goal to ensure that no matter where a person lives that they have access to the supports and services they need to maintain and improve their quality of life.

In response to these barriers the MS Society of Canada, Alberta & Northwest Territories Division created the “MS GPS – Systems Navigation and Advocacy Program” to provide support, education and advocacy to people living with MS to improve access to disability related supports. Our idea is to further expand and enhance this program, as a direct need exists for expanded reach and support. Since 2013, the program has helped over 350 people throughout Alberta and NWT, and each year the need increases. What this means is ensuring MS Society staff are trained to support the diverse needs of people with MS, and to provide education and resources to empower people with MS to self-advocate.

The mission of the MS Society is to be a leader in finding a cure for MS and enable people to enhance their quality of life. As people with MS navigate an uncertain and unpredictable disease trajectory; as needs become more complex; needs for relevant programs, services, care and supports increase. The MS GPS Program exists to provide that much needed support.

Who Will it Benefit?

People living with MS across Alberta and in the Northwest Territories will benefit by connecting them with the supports and services they need to lead an enhanced quality of life. People affected by MS not only refers to those living with MS, but also their loved ones, caregivers, children, friends, family, healthcare professional, and employer; it is anyone that has been impacted by the disease.

Alberta has one of the highest MS prevalence rates in Canada; nearly 14,000 Albertans live with the disease, and this number continues to grow each year. Furthermore, Canada has the highest prevalence rate in the World. For this reason it is referred to as “Canada’s disease”. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic lifelong disease characterized by unpredictable symptoms such as pain, extreme fatigue, vision loss, cognitive damage and even paralysis. The disease typically strikes young adults between the ages of 15 and 40 during their prime career and family building years. However, children as young as three are increasingly being diagnosed with this disease and women are also three times more likely than men to develop MS.