Chorus Apartment

It is hard to believe Chorus has been open for almost three years now! Time has flown by; we are thrilled to have such a great inclusive apartment within our UNITI partnership. People who call Chorus home continue to learn and grow in their personal environment. The balance between too much support and too little is something we always battle with. Working through what makes a good life, what is important to and important for each person is what we are searching for.  People have grown in amazing ways and have gained much needed confidence in doing things on their own with pride.

We have had numerous compliments from tenants in the building praising UNITI for allowing them the opportunity to live in such an amazing building with an incredible philosophy. Community grows with each passing month.

We spent time talking to individuals, families and support staff to review what life at Chorus has been like for the first two years. We are so grateful for the enthusiasm and feedback from everyone regarding how the first two years has gone. Here are some of the findings:

What have been some of the biggest celebrations!

  • Living their life…loving their life…
  • People are safe but still living a good life!
  • People are in charge of their lives.
  • People are doing so much for themselves.
  • People are happy, healthy and safe.
  • Great support networks – working together.
  • That families are learning to let go!
  • Mom and dad’s life is better!
  • Less worries about the future!

…and people have said…

  • He has HIS perfect life. He has become his own person – a full and complete life.”
  • “They are so proud and so happy with their lives.”
  • “She is doing things on her own I never assumed she would be able to do.”
  • “I trust she can take care of herself”
  • “When she is out shopping – she calls me and asks if I need anything.”
  • “I can’t believe how clean he keeps his apartment.”
  • “I don’t have to worry about the future anymore.”
  • “Our mother daughter relationship has grown and evolved.”

What have been some of the biggest challenges? The tough stuff?

  • Letting go, stepping back and fading out.
  • Balancing a happy and safe life.
  • When reality sets in.
  • Planning and arranging their life.
  • Honouring and understanding adult rights – consent, choice, confidentiality, privacy, personal decision making.
  • Ongoing worries about personal safety.
  • Health, nutrition and exercise.
  • What people want…what parents want…what support staff wants…
  • Clarity of roles and responsibilities – who does what?
  • Ups and downs of life – unexpected life events, interpersonal conflicts, problem solving, emotional support.

So what’s next?

Below you will see some of the areas we will be working on as we move forward. There is MUCH to celebrate and still lots to work on to ensure people live amazing lives of their choosing.

Next Steps and Things to figure out…
 Two years later…

Ongoing learning…

·         Now is the time to do thorough functional skills assessment to see where people are at for the next stages of learning.

·         Mindfully and intentionally be planning next steps and stages of learning as people grow and develop.

·         If it is recognized that the person may not ever learn something completely – build in the help/support – stop pushing the person to learn – and move on to something else. Make it easy and positive for people.

·         Support and education around supported/informed decision making. When some people are told it’s their choice – they don’t necessarily understand what this means, know how or have the skills to work through making an informed decision.

·         Further explore learning in the area of with Rights come Responsibilities.

·         Enhance and build on a community life – inclusion. Getting out in the world.

Ongoing long term relationships and support networks…

·         Next stage of people’s lives…enhancing social lives and friendships, teach people how to initiate and arrange their social life.

Enhancing support…

·         How do we build stability (support and relationships) with so many different rotating casual staff? This is hard on people living at Chorus and worrisome for parents. Can there be a different structure? A better system? More predictability of support for people? A way for family and people to meet all new staff before going into their home? Is there better training needs and support for new staff/casual staff? Can there be designated roles for regular staff? Eg. Go to person for various supports, issues, responsibilities.

Dealing with the ups and downs…

·         Support/education in conflict resolution/interpersonal conflict for tenants and support staff. Provide this learning through life skills. Create a system/strategies of how to deal with issues and who to go to for support with what issues. Clarity about roles and responsibilities.

Enhancing communication and collaboration…

·         Clarify everyone’s roles and responsibilities (family and support team).

·         What kind of things should we be communicating to support team?

·         How do parents get the information they need in relation to supports? Eg. I need to know what’s going on in my child’s week so that I know what I need to do in regards to arranging, organizing and planning – and what I need to be doing such as transportation.  (idea: life skills session that consists of going through the week ahead and talking about what needs to be done – arranging transportation, who needs to do what, etc. – great opportunity for teaching and learning – also an important responsibility)

·         How can we move forward with the ongoing collaborative approach between support team and family? How can we come together and enhance our partnership?

 Sharing information…

·         Are family members allowed to know details of how the support funding works? Details of SHS role and responsibilities?

·         Understanding the formal and informal laws of consent, confidentiality and privacy? What are the non-negotiables – not an option to keep confidential? What are the areas parents “don’t need to know?”

·         Who is updating people’s plans? Support documentation? Health care plans? E.g. Seizure protocols? Personal and medical information? Essential Lifestyle Plan? To ensure things are current for new staff and reflect changes and growth in people’s lives.

We received endless calls about Chorus this year. People want to know how they can access this inclusive apartment. We are asked regularly if we are building more apartments for others to be a part of. The answer to that question is we are definitely working on it: “People live where and with whom they choose” is one of SHS’s Ends and creating more inclusive housing opportunities is in our short and long term plan! There will be more to come on this in 2019-2020.J

Community Support Network

Currently, we hold 83 home share contracts and life skills development contracts.

Things we celebrated this year:

  • New hire, Cynthia Butac, we are so pleased to have her on board! Cynthia is a great addition to our team.
  • CLBC announced increase funding for home share supports – more to follow once they have the details sorted out.

Challenges this year:

  • Scarcity of qualified applicants for home share
  • Aging home share providers, retirement starting to occur
  • Aging of people we support – limited housing options when home share is no longer an option for support when health and mobility needs are changing.

Group Homes

Semiahmoo House Society currently has 5 group homes that support 21 amazing individuals.

Support teams strive to meet the needs, wants and dreams of each individual. Areas we worked on this year are:

  • emotional well-being – contentment, self-concept, lack of stress
  • interpersonal relations – interactions, relationships, supports
  • material well-being – financial status, employment, housing
  • personal development – education, personal competence, performance
  • physical well-being – health and health care, activities of daily living, leisure
  • self-determination – autonomy, personal control, personal goals, choices
  • social inclusion – community integration and participation, roles, supports
  • rights – legal, human (respect, dignity, equality)

We began the final phase of our group home management restructuring this year. A Program Coordinator for 25th Avenue was hired in December. We will be hiring a Program Coordinator for 20A Avenue in June to prepare for Gigi Rojas’ retirement. Gigi will be deeply missed. Barb Coad will be taking over Manager responsibilities of all group homes at the beginning of next fiscal year.

This year we were sad to say goodbye to two lovely ladies, Brenda McCullough and Gale Harper passed away with loving family by their side. Big thank you goes out to our 191A team and CSN team for being there to support these ladies through hard times. We appreciate all that you did for Brenda and Gail; you supported these ladies well with love and grace. Well done.

We celebrate all that we learned this year. We look forward to continuing to grow in the year ahead.

Lise Boughen, Director of Inclusive Living

 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.

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