"agencies supporting people with intellectual disabilities"

Press Release April 5, 2017

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   Call to government to address the critical needs of vulnerable people in the upcoming budget.   Winnipeg, Manitoba (April 5, 2017) – Services to Manitobans with intellectual disabilities are at a critical impasse. Funding has not been adjusted for cost of living increases in six years; there’s a lack of standardized training and constant staff turnover. Manitobans with intellectual disabilities are calling on the government to demonstrate that they are important in this next budget.   “It takes time for my daughter to build a relationship and to trust. It’s this trusting relationship that allows her to feel safe. When she’s not feeling safe and supported her anxiety grows and when her anxiety grows her behaviour changes.  When she feels safe and protected she blossoms,” said Gloria Woloshyn, a concerned mom.   Families are waiting beyond ten years for residential services and only receive services in crisis situations. Staff that are doing complex work are getting paid the same as a server at a coffee shop and vulnerable people are seeing constant turnover in their support staff, leaving them at risk.   “There have been times where my daughter has built a good relationship only to have it gone.  It hurts to watch this over again and again. In many cases the relationship ends, not because the worker wants to leave, but because the worker cannot afford to stay.  My daughter is caught in the middle of this unhealthy circle and it’s really sad to watch,” said Gloria. Over six-thousand adults with intellectual disabilities in Manitoba are affected by budget decisions made by the provincial government. Most are supported by non-profit, community agencies that fall under the Abilities Manitoba umbrella. These community agencies offer varied services including residential, employment, day, and respite supports.   “Family members are telling us they’re worried about funding. They’re afraid of cuts to front line services and that a system already fraught with problems will be further jeopardized.” said Margo Powell, Executive Director of Abilities Manitoba. This concern is compounded by the fact that funding has been flat-lined since 2011 which has resulted in many non-profit agencies being stretched further and further to deliver high quality supports.   Last April, at the Chamber of Commerce Leader’s debate, Premier Pallister was quoted as saying, “The best governments are always the ones that put the interests of vulnerable people first. I will do that as Premier.” We call on the provincial government to fulfill Premier Pallister’s words and show that Manitoba truly cares about people with intellectual disabilities and front line services critical to thousands of Manitoba families.     For more information please contact:   Jennifer Rodrigue M:204-803-5781 E:...

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Our First (of Three) Priority Goals!

Better Front Line Outcomes for Manitobans with intellectual disabilities and the workers who support them.   “Quality is defined at the point of interaction between the staff member and the person with a disability.” John F. Kennedy Jr. Issue Adults with an intellectual disability are being supported by front line workers who are underpaid and lack standardized, consistent training. Further, Manitoba’s Community Living disAbility Services system lacks an effective measurement approach to ensure quality outcomes.   Background Community living is young in its history. The services offered were advocated for by parents and pieced together without a long-term plan. Community Living disAbility Services is reactive and crisis driven. Agencies have had to develop and deliver training for support workers in-house; requiring intensive resources. Chronically low staff wages and lack of standardized and consistent training have long been recognized as requiring attention. Most other sectors have consistent, comprehensive, standardized training available to front line workers. Coupled with these factors, there is no mechanism to measure quality outcomes within services, despite a significant investment from the province. The recommendations in this briefing note will ensure a proactive service that demonstrates value for the individuals receiving services.   Risk Front line workers are required to work independently, solve quality of life issues and provide complex medical supports and intimate personal care. Staff are paid poorly and their training varies based on the agency. Non-standardized training and inadequate wages in a high responsibility position results in high turnover. Vulnerable adults can have up to 800 different care providers in their lifetime. Turnover means inconsistent care and very high administrative costs for human resources and training.   Additionally, the system needs a quality assurance framework to ensure value for money. The framework needs to be value-based and person-centered with measurable goals and tools for improvements.   The Vulnerable Persons Act, Accessibility for Manitobans Act and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities all support the need for appropriate training and supports for people with intellectual disabilities.   The success of the Building on Abilities initiative, which aims to ensure people get the supports they need to lead meaningful lives in welcoming communities utilizing a person-centred approach will ultimately depend on the quality of direct support received. Success will be significantly hampered unless the pervasive training and wage concerns are addressed.   Recommended Action and Financial Impact: Work collaboratively with community stakeholders to: Professionalize the Community Living disAbility sector by implementing standardized training linked to compensation and a quality assurance system. Provide financial support to Abilities Manitoba to investigate and develop consistent training for direct support workers and a quality assurance framework. Significant progress can be made in both areas within one year at a cost of $293,440.00. Raise funding for wages to a level that respects the complexity and responsibility of the role of direct support workers. Increase overall funding for staff wages to agencies by 10% within your current term. This will address compression and excluded workers created by the wage enhancement fund and allow agencies who haven’t received a cost of living increase since 2011 to address wages. Ultimately it will provide greater stability and sustainability to a vulnerable population.   Ethical Considerations Community Living disAbility Services is the only human service sector that lacks consistent, standardized training, does not pay at a level that encourages staff to make a career of their job and does not have a mechanism to measure quality outcomes. These all represent barriers to full participation for adults with intellectual disabilities.   The lack of action in these critical areas makes it appear that government...

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We Won’t Be Left Behind

  December 3, 2015. For as long as I live, I won’t forget that day. Sixteen hundred people from across Manitoba crammed into the Manitoba Legislative Building to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities and the launch of Disability Matters Vote 2016. One event. One reason. Rights. Joining thousands of  celebrations occurring worldwide, we stood in solidarity of inclusion. We stood together to speak about the right to vote and to participate in all aspects of political and public life. We stood together in frustration. We stood together in hope. The energy in the legislative building was incredible. Conversations buzzed, hundreds of webcasters joined, buttons and stickers circulated, signs bounced through the air, the sitting Cabinet was not amused, the media couldn’t get in: the building was at capacity and people flowed onto the steps outside. The elevators were beyond backed up trying to accommodate people using wheelchairs who waited patiently to access the event. There was a palpable excitement in the air. People crowded into corners, nooks and crannies and stood over railings, trying to hear and see the program above the audible excitement. The message was clear – We have rights too. We won’t be left behind. Never before have we come together so strongly, so unified, so ready for change.  Never has there been a stronger sense of collective empowerment. Those in attendance and many more went on to be the change makers of Disability Matters: Vote 2016. The campaign created a ripple across the province  connecting our provincial election to disability rights like never before. The focus was on basic human rights – employment, accessibility, access to services, dignified income and fair wages. Change happened. People with disabilities learned about their right to vote and exercised it. Many elected officials learned valuable, new information. We moved the needle forward on public awareness. We built new and stronger relationships. We collaborated. Most importantly, we saw what was possible when we came together. One unified voice: We all have the same rights. We won’t be left...

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