Doug Tennant Head Shot Colour

The Ends (mission) of UNITI partner Semiahmoo House Society (SHS) are to achieve the following:

Global End: People with disabilities live self-directed lives in the community at a justifiable cost:

  1. People are valued members of society;
  2. People decide how they live their lives, and make informed choices;
  3. The rights of people are protected.

During the fiscal year of April 2018 to April 2019, SHS reflected on our Ends through research and consultations with people we support, stakeholders, and our “owners” (who we define as members of the community) and continued to develop and refine our services as a result of our research.

Of particular note this year was the intensive Ends 2 Consultation led by the Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo (SAS), who used what they had learned from the previous year’s Ends 1 Consultation and applied it in creating a more fulsome consultation with the people we support in different services and programs at SHS. Nolda Ware, Manager of Person Centred Practices and Family Services, worked with SAS to tabulate the findings and create recommendations that SHS will pursue to ensure our Ends are being met through the work that we do. These recommendations will become part of our strategic plan for 2019 to 2022. Some of the specific recommendations that I would like to make note of include the following:

  • To increase ways to involve people SHS supports in agency decisions and roles
  • To increase opportunities to bring community “IN”
  • To increase opportunities and experiences to support people to get out in the world to do interesting things in ordinary place
  • To include people SHS supports in co-production and co-design of services and service changes
  • To involve families and direct support staff in the redesign of supports and services

As part of SAS’s research, they explored what people we supported wanted to learn and discovered that people wanted to learn about life and how to be part of their community. Some of the things people said they wanted to learn included the following:

  • What privacy means to me and how to honour other peoples’ privacy
  • Social media and technology
  • Basic first aid skills
  • Certifications that would assist in getting a job, such as Food Safe
  • Safety—how to say “NO,” safety at home and in the community, how to deal with emergencies, etc.
  • How to take the bus to get around
  • Conflict resolution/resolving interpersonal conflicts
  • Stress management—dealing with the ups and downs of life
  • Managing one’s own plans and arrangements—planning a social life
  • How to be a good neighbour
  • How to have a healthy relationship with a boyfriend/girlfriend

The redesign of our services that we are currently undergoing is informed and guided by what we learned during our consultations. 2018-2019 was a year that we moved forward with redesigning some of our services and continued to seek excellence in all the services we offer.

SHS Services

Lise Boughen, Director of Inclusive Living, and Liz Deschenes, Director of Community Services, have more specific reports on their services later in this package, but I did want to reflect on some of significant highlights and shifts in our services in my report to members.

Community Services

In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, we made significant changes to the way our employment and training services were designed, based on our consultations with the people we support, the community, and on the achievement of SHS’s Ends. As Liz writes in her report, we have created an innovative intake process called Discover Yourself, which is supporting people to try new experiences and to figure out areas in their lives they want to explore, including employment, personal development, and recreation. Our WISE Employment Services continued to grow and we continue to value the great employers in our community who understand the positives of hiring people who are loyal and who want to work. There are many other exciting elements of our community services that were developed through redesign this last year that you can read about in Liz’s report.

Community Development and the Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo

We created a Community Development Advisor position and hired Jill Glennie in the role. This role was refined during the year as Jill worked on creating partnerships and creative projects that would increase the number of people accessing services provided by UNITI that are outside community members and increase the number of people who are active in the community without paid supports. Jill also supported SAS in their pursuit of being a leader at the provincial and national level and in their Ends consultations where they interviewed people we support to determine if we were achieving our Ends as an organization.

Centre for Compassionate Learning (CCL)

Lynne Ford became the Manager of CCL in 2018 and worked to increase SHS’s leadership in Person-Centred Practices. SHS has the only two mentor trainers in BC: Lynne and Nolda Ware. They worked with multiple community living agencies to ensure that trainers are well-trained, traveling throughout BC to do so. CCL trained people internally and externally in Mandt, a non-violent crisis intervention system that we employ at SHS. CCL also worked with leadership of non-profit and business organizations, training people in good governance and developing strategic paths with them.

Inclusive Living Services

Inclusive Living did not have the same number of service delivery changes that Community Services undertook in 2018-2019, focusing instead on reviewing and maintaining excellence in service delivery while at the same time preparing for exciting housing initiatives to come in future years.

Chorus Apartment

Chorus, the inclusive and affordable apartment built by UNITI partner Peninsula Estates Housing Society (PEHS), celebrated its 2nd birthday in August, 2018. The apartment features 20 homes for people with intellectual disabilities and 51 for other citizens of Surrey, from all walks of life. Our ongoing checking in with tenants and their families shows that people are doing very well living in their own apartments. More on this can be found in Lise Boughen’s report.

In 2018, UNITI partner organization PEHS was awarded an $8.8 million dollar grant from BC Housing for our next inclusive and affordable housing project. SHS will be working closely with PEHS as this housing project becomes reality over the next few years.

Community Support Network (CSN)

The provincial government announced an increase in funding for home share support in early 2019, which was welcomed news as the funding for home share contractor had not increased in over a decade and recruitment of new home share providers has been difficult the last few years.

Staffed Residential Services

I’d like to take this opportunity to give my thanks to Barb Coad and all the staff members who work in our five group homes. The support given in these homes is truly 24/7 and is done with compassion and an understanding of the importance of good relationships. When people supported in group homes pass away, as two people did in 2018-2019, it is very difficult for staff members who must continue to support other people living in those homes while they themselves grieve. A difficult job and they do it with grace and kindness.

Ownership Consultation: Food for Thought Dinner

Another way in which UNITI partner SHS’s leadership interacts with their community is through our annual Food for Thought dinners. At these dinners, we invite our “owners” (which we define as the community) to a meal where we ask them questions that will help our Board develop the Ends of the organization. This past year, we invited hospitality experts and asked the following questions:

  1. What are the signs of a healthy and inclusive community?
  2. What is the role of UNITI in building a healthy and inclusive community?
  3. What are some training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the hospitality industry?

The lively conversation at dinner and thoughtful responses from our guests helped inform the Board about the direction the organization needs to go and helped inform senior staff about services that could be developed to attain our Ends.

Performance and Quality Improvement

The Society has clearly defined Ends Policies that are created and refined by the Board of Directors through consultation with their “owners” (the community) and experts in the field, especially people who have disabilities. These Ends are the marching orders for the Executive Director, who must operationalize how the Ends will be achieved without violating legal, moral, or common sense statutes. The Performance and Quality Improvement (PQI) process gathers feedback, analyzes data, and makes recommendations for improvements and growth in achieving our Ends.

Our Ends, which have been featured in this report, typify the lives that people would like to live, which will be different for each person. Therefore, the outcomes of SHS are wholly based on each person’s outcomes, and the aggregate of this will demonstrate if we are achieving our Ends.

In addition to surveying people we support and their families, we build in extensive feedback systems for our staff using Accountability Based Management (ABM) practices, including clear role descriptions and frequent direct report meetings.

In fiscal year 2018-2019, we developed improved processes for PQI, including a system to include PQI as an agenda item in all team meetings that would alert supervisors and directors to PQI initiatives. We also developed a flow chart to demonstrate how PQI issues are addressed in an ongoing manner using ShareVision, our online communications platform at SHS.

By making PQI a part of all of our work at SHS, we hope to nurture a culture of continuous improvement that will be to the benefit of the people we support and the organization in general.


 Semiahmoo House Society benefits greatly from contributions from our generous community. We are blessed to have thoughtful, dedicated, and passionate Board members who give generously of their time and expertise to lead the organization by listening to our owners (members of the community) and thoughtfully creating the Ends for SHS. Board Chair Bea Hadikin leads by example and enables thoughtful deliberation of the issues that the Board deals with.

We would not have been able to move forward with our redesign of services without the support of people and businesses in our community who understand their role in inclusion and also understand that what they do is not an act of charity but a reciprocal relationship that benefits all parties.

I am thankful to the senior staff team who lead by example and dedicate themselves to developing services that lead to fulfilling lives for the people we support. Lise Boughen, Director of Inclusive Living, ensures the people we support in staffed residential homes, shared living arrangements, and independent supported living arrangements are able to have good lives and the opportunity for choice in their day-to-day and life decisions. Liz Deschenes, Director of Community Services, oversees a department that is percolating with change, and she is leading this in an open and thoughtful manner. Stephanie Green, Director of Human Resources, ensures that our departments are supported with staffing issues and that we recruit people who understand and buy into our person centred philosophy. Ellen Powell, Director of Finance, oversees the financial systems of not just SHS but also UNITI partners Peninsula Estates Housing Society and The Semiahmoo Foundation. Louise Tremblay, Director of Development, oversaw our refreshed “Taste of BC Gala” that saw over $70,000 raised to support the inclusion of people who have disabilities and did great work on improving our presence in the community in 2018-2019. Seema Tripathi, Associate Director of Community Services, led the successful expansion of our employment services and development of Transitions. We are fortunate to have this dedicated team listening to our stakeholders and leading the change that we need as we move forward as an organization and as a community.

I’d be remiss if I did not mention the fine work Diane Nimmo, Executive Administrative Manager, did in supporting the Board and myself this past year. In a new position she was open to learning and helped me stay on track with all the projects we are working on.

SHS’s managers, supervisors, and front-line staff members do exceptional work in a compassionate and creative manner. They have been a huge part in the transition that we are going through and have been open to change and contributing to that change. I am very appreciative of their contributions.

And finally, the support we receive from volunteers, donors, and our community allows us to create services that meet the needs of the people we support at a time when funding does not fully cover the type of services that we want to offer. Thank you all for your support.

Doug Tennant, Executive Director, Semiahmoo House Society

UNITI is the partnership of three affiliated non-profit organizations that have existed for decades. Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. Peninsula Estates Housing Society provides affordable and inclusive rental housing that reflects the diversity of our community. The Semiahmoo Foundation assures that UNITI has the recognition, relationships and resources to support an inclusive community.

Leave a Reply