We are forever grateful for Colleen at Windsor-Essex Brokerage, our independent Facilitator for 3 years- our connector to independent living for our Heather. Brokerage’s actions helped us efficiently navigate system resources we were unaware of. Confusion transformed to possibilities we had not considered. Barriers and reliefs revealed.
Prior to Brokerage, our family was at a crisis, not knowing how to best plan with Heather, and her family’s health was collapsing. Seemed that we had no choices, no where to turn.
We, her family were unable to determine the best future environment available. She has Autism and is high functioning. We knew Community Group Home living would impossible due to a long waiting list, (5+ years and growing). We had to find and examine the availability of options. The System elements were immensely convoluted, confusing, overlapping, or lacking.
The Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) was promoting, so essentially saying, that a better environment for Heather might be a ”Supported Independent Living” model with identified supports. “Innovative Housing Solutions” it was branded.
For many months we met weekly with Colleen to understand and examine Heather’s capabilities, and our fears. Some of her strong skills were hidden behind some of the features of her disability. Our whiteboard plan included family support circle, friends, community resources, and Heather’s wishes - examined and transformed as we crossed professions, blended resources, and discovered new links.
This was a puzzle with endless dimensions and fears. But planning changes to her life became hopeful and possible with Brokerage guidance. Each meeting advanced the next steps. Dependence to independence. It had to be flexible and sustainable.
We experienced a shift in our recognition of Heather’s talents, and realized she would be capable to have an apartment and learn to be a responsible adult. There were dozens of steps to get to this, financially, physically and preparing Heather cognitively and emotionally for change to independent living.
Brokerage stepped us through finalizing the plan into the Innovative Housing Proposal. I must believe there is a science to the IHP document because this solution is working.
It is clear this professional organization changed Heather and our family forever, for better. What we thought would be Heather’s future took a sharp right turn to a brilliant but unexpected outcome. We were encouraged to move our minds in different ways, recognizing the Ministry’s recommendations and limitations.
Looking back, the time to just understand, and develop Heathers’ abilities and plan was 24 months.
Now, Heather is living independently with supports, the schedules we initially made have been tweaked and improved.
She volunteers with 2 organizations learning new work skills. She uses the city bus, is involved in her community, participates in group sports with friends. Socially her speech significantly expanded, she is strongly, proudly independent and continues to learn adult responsibilities.
Now with Colleen’s guidance we are examining the next maze of part time employment for Heather. Our support circle will be further developed and roles defined, legal implications for Power of Attorney alternatives, how we will use her community, family and support circle to define her future.
Because of our extended involvement with Windsor-Essex Brokerage team it qualifies us to offer our point of view, that these are the people who made an effective difference that has given Heather an independent life and her mother’s recovery. The results are measurable, positive, and in terms of government speak, affordable vs. a shared housing model.
How do parents have the time to navigate the confusing barriers, while restricted at home caring for their child, an adult, dependent on supervision?
Two years prior to Brokerage, we experienced uneventful outreaches to other service organizations. We were unable to find knowledgeable services to assist our family to determine the best future for Heather. Each step wasted time slamming into another wall.
To the MCSS, Please include the Brokerage programs in your considered future funding obligations as a vital step to forward progress and care of those with disabilities. Expand this program, incorporate other successful independent living models proven in Canada and Europe.