Community Living Essex County celebrates “REAL Change” initiative

 

 

Community Living Essex County (CLEC) celebrated its “REAL Change” initiative last week as the agency seeks to modernize the way it delivers services.

REAL Change is described as “a robust undertaking to transform the agency’s business and service delivery models in order to offer modern, relevant supports within a sustainable and innovative infrastructure. REAL Change has the potential to be a demonstration project for other service providers within Ontario’s developmental service sector.”

The project has been undertaken over the last two years, but CLEC executive director Nancy Wallace-Gero indicated that the celebration was not the completion of the project.

Sara Gavrelets, a Community Living Essex County support worker and a “REAL Change” champion, discusses her experiences with CLEC’s modernizations efforts during a celebration last Thursday afternoon.

Sara Gavrelets, a Community Living Essex County support worker and a “REAL Change” champion, discusses her experiences with CLEC’s modernizations efforts during a celebration last Thursday afternoon.

“It’s really not the end of the process or the end of anything,” said Wallace-Gero.

Wallace-Gero said the agency plans on continuing to go down the path of modernization and but noted “this is a very exciting day for all of us.”

Sue Desjarlais, a member of the agency’s board of directors as well as a REAL Change committee member, said the first few months were devoted to “taking things apart” and looking about how services were delivered.

“We’ve done something dynamic over the last couple of years,” said Desjarlais.

CLEC engaged the consulting firm People Minded Business (PMB) to guide it through the process with Janeen Halliwell and Jennifer Keilty-Friesen helping CLEC engage families and stakeholders in an effort to modernize services. Halliwell noted that it was important to develop “a culture of innovation” and that the strategic planning was both dynamic and diverse. She said the process was to not only find out what their goals were but to align them with a strategic direction.

Keilty-Friesen said over 200 stakeholders were part of the process. Direction that came up as part of the process included improving access to services, offering families innovative and affordable supports for those with intellectual disabilities, designing a responsible and sustainable business model and to provide leadership in the developmental services sector.

Janeen Halliwell discusses the REAL Change initiative during a celebration last Thursday. Halliwell and Jennifer Keilty-Friesen from the consulting firm People Minded Business (PMB) helped guide Community Living Essex County through the REAL Change process.

Janeen Halliwell discusses the REAL Change initiative during a celebration last Thursday. Halliwell and Jennifer Keilty-Friesen from the consulting firm People Minded Business (PMB) helped guide Community Living Essex County through the REAL Change process.

Consultation took place with a number of groups, including Ensemble and New Day. The former is a parent-driven group with parent consultant Kelly Runnalls noting their voices were heard throughout the REAL Change process.

Marilyn Goddard, also representing Ensemble, said there was no time when the voices of parents not get heard.

“Change is a good thing,” said Goddard. “It presents us with exciting possibilities.”

Karen Bolger, director of operations with CLEC, outlined the five pilot groups that were part of the REAL Change process. Forward First Marketing helped establish communication and marketing strategies to reach all audiences, while CLEC also joined the Central 33 Leamington Hub in order to foster greater collaboration with multiple organizations in order to improve response to families. Another pilot was “My Support Link” with the purpose of that being to be an innovative web-based application for people with intellectual disabilities and their families to connect with one another and to share resources and access.

“Select A Break” was developed to provide “right fit respite options” that are affordable, flexible and sensitive to individual and family needs. That program is expanding into Amherstburg and Tecumseh.

“The Right Support in My Home” group is to develop a full range of community residential support options which provide the right level of support to promote independence, self-determination, community involvement and contribution. Part of that is the Smart Support options, something CLEC’s director of supports Corey Dalgleish called “a game changer.” Smart Supports involves the ethical use of technology to aid in providing supports including medicine dispensers, cooking assistance, video calls and more. Dalgleish added that technology will be used with full permission of everyone involved.

Keilty-Friesen said CLEC took a “huge stop” by not only developing plans, but actually putting them in motion.

“People have more support options through this initiative,” added Halliwell. “This agency is leading the way in providing supports in a modernized sector.”

For more information on REAL Change, call 519-776-6483 or visit www.communitylivingessex.org/about-us/realchange/.

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