During our Connect & Collaborate session on October 19th, 2023, our home sharing community came together to talk and learn. During this session, we reviewed the findings from the survey about individual and family wellness. The information from the survey helped us understand the support, challenges, and opportunities in our home sharing community. It was also an opportunity to check-in with the home sharing community if the findings were an accurate reflection of their experiences. It is a step towards making home sharing better in British Columbia.
People from different backgrounds, places in the province and parts of the home sharing community joined the session. Together we talked about the information and how we can make positive change in the home sharing community. We appreciate everyone who attended and shared their thoughts about how to make home sharing sustainable now and in the future.
Some key takeaways from the session:
A big problem we talked about was money. People said it’s really hard for home sharing providers to take time off because it costs a lot to hire support workers. Home sharing providers said there is a lot of competition for support workers. We received great feedback from the participants in the discussion groups who suggested several solutions to this problem.
1. Funding : Providing good care, hiring support workers, and keeping services competitive can be expensive. To handle these costs, and keep services going, home sharing providers talked about funding sources.
One way is to look for other sources of funding that are not from government or CLBC. Some of the topics we explored is how much is needed? Are their opportunities that we could explore like sponsorships, federal grant funding, or fundraising ?
2. Asset Mapping: This is a strategy where you identify and utilize the existing resources within your community. For instance, if there’s a member of the home sharing community who is a trained counselor? Would they be willing to offer free counseling sessions? This would not only provide a valuable service but also strengthen the community bonds.
3. Non-monetary Incentives: These are rewards that don’t involve money but still have value. For example, offering free training programs to casual support workers not only enhances their skills but also makes them feel valued and appreciated. Credits for training could be another incentive where the training received could count towards another program (like a health care aide certification).
4. Alternative Models for Casual Coverage: These are different ways to provide casual support or time-off for home sharing providers. For example, community centers could be used as spaces where home sharing providers can take short breaks while the person they care for engages in community activities. Dedicated facilities with spaces designed specific for providing short-term relief for home sharing providers.
5. Peer Exchange System: This is a collaborative approach where groups of home sharing providers come together to share resources. For example, if several home share providers each have a support worker, they could create a shared pool of these workers. This way, if one provider needs extra support or time-off, they could have access to this shared pool.
Making Training Accessible for All
One of the key questions raised during the discussion was: How do we make training accessible for all? This includes considerations for rural, metro areas, low and high tech environments, diverse abilities, language diversity, and cultural sensitivity. The goal was to ensure that everyone, regardless of their location, technological proficiency, abilities, language, or cultural background, has equal access to valuable training.
Bridging the Cultural Gap with First Nation Friendship Centers
Currently, there are more individuals served who identify as First Nation than there are home sharing providers from the same background. This imbalance can lead to a lack of cultural understanding and sensitivity in caregiving practices.
By partnering with First Nation Friendship Centers, we can provide caregivers with the necessary cultural training. This training can help them understand and respect the traditions, values, and practices of the individuals they serve. It can also equip them with the skills to handle culturally-specific situations that may arise in their caregiving journey.
Embracing Diversity through Cultural Inclusivity Training
While it’s important to address specific cultural training needs, such as those for the Indigenous community, it’s equally important to consider all cultures. Home sharing arrangements can involve individuals from various cultural backgrounds, and caregivers must be equipped with the skills to provide respectful and effective care to all.
Cultural inclusivity training can be one area to support this need. This training can help home share providers and support workers understand and respect the diverse cultural backgrounds of the individuals they serve. It can cover a range of topics, from understanding different traditions and communication styles to learning about various cultural practices and beliefs.
The Vital Role of Families and Parents
Participants highlighted the importance of family involvement. In home sharing, families are an important resource. They know their loved one’s behavior, needs, and preferences intimately. This knowledge is invaluable for a successful home sharing experience. By sharing this information with the home sharing provider, the individual in their care will receive more personalized care and a better home sharing experience.
Interactive and Practical Training: Learning by Doing
Participants advocated for a training approach that is hands-on and interactive. They suggested that role-playing scenarios, problem-solving exercises, and real-life simulations can be more effective than traditional lecture-style training. This approach allows providers to better understand the challenges and dynamics they may encounter.
Home sharing providers also expressed a strong interest in ongoing professional development opportunities. They stressed that training should not be a one-time event but rather an ongoing process. This could include regular workshops, seminars, and access to the latest research and best practices.
We discussed the importance of expanding the support worker network. This is crucial to improve care for individuals in home sharing arrangements. We identified several groups as potential pools for support workers. Let’s look at these groups and why they might be suitable:
Students: Part-Time Support
Students are great candidates for support work as they possess the flexibility to choose part-time work. Moreover, many students are pursuing careers in nursing and health programs, their work can count towards their nursing and health program requirements which makes them highly motivated and dedicated support workers.
First Nations & Indigenous Community Leaders: Prioritizing Cultural Safety
People from First Nations and Indigenous communities bring cultural knowledge and trauma-informed practices to the table. Building relationships and ensuring cultural safety are key priorities for support workers.
Siblings of Individuals with Disabilities: A Comfortable Choice
Siblings of individuals with disabilities are excellent candidates. They know the individual’s needs, behaviors, and preferences well. Plus, the person with a disability can feel more at ease with someone they know.
Newcomers to Canada: Bridging Language and Culture
Newcomers to Canada can be effective support workers. They may speak the same language as the person with a disability. Their cultural awareness can facilitate effective communication and care.
The Potential of a Recruitment Platform
Participants discussed the idea of a recruitment platform for support workers, which could offer several features:
- Filtering: Users can filter support workers based on area, availability, skills, and support needs.
- Profiles: Support workers can create profiles with their credentials, allowing home share providers to make informed choices.
- Referral Incentives: Implementing a referral program to promote growth and collaboration within the support network.
As we continue to work together to address these issues and create a brighter future for the home sharing community, the commitment of each member in our home sharing community remains essential.
Together, we can continue to explore potential solutions to complex issues. We can enhance the quality of care provided and ensure that all individuals with developmental disabilities receive the support and understanding they deserve.
Thank you to everyone who was able to attend. We look forward to seeing you at future events!