Sharing homes and lives: How one agency redefines caregiving

When the Pollock family opened their home to Marc through posAbilities, they got more than just a roommate – they got a brother, a son, and a new extension of their family they may not have expected. “It’s not just about putting someone in a bedroom,” said Louise Blackwell, the manager for the shared living program at posAbilities. “It’s about truly being a part of somebody else’s life,” she said.

PosAbilities is an agency that assists people with developmental disabilities lead meaningful and healthy lives. It does this by partnering with the community to provide a comprehensive range of person-centered services for individuals and families who care for them.

With more than 100 arrangements throughout Metro Vancouver, Marc’s case is just one example of how a good match can result in a relationship that has enhanced the lives of both parties. “It’s interesting that where the family goes, he goes,” Blackwell explained, adding that he joins the family for dinner, is a part of wedding parties, Christmas and birthday dinners, and joins family vacations.

As anyone can be a shared living provider – from roommates to family homes to people who live alone – there are a variety of different options ranging in support needs. “The living arrangements are tailored to the individuals to make sure we create stable, cohesive, and mutually beneficial relationships,” Blackwell added. With an in-depth home study process, Blackwell and her team go through a lengthy vetting process to make sure the match is just right. While some families become more of a transitional phase for posAbilities’ clients, others, like Marc’s family, evolve into long term commitments in which they become, as Blackwell put it simply, “part of the family.”

Although helping people with disabilities find the right living arrangements is their primary duty, posAbilities has a greater agenda: to connect the community to this underrepresented group of people. “We want to challenge the status quo,” Blackwell said, by providing employment opportunities for disabled people and by creating partnerships and social exchanges. Through posAbilities’ community inclusion programs, those like Marc are able to give back to their community. Blackwell said volunteering with Meals on Wheels and at the Salvation Army Caring Place are what makes Marc happy, adding that “his smile says it all.”

To learn more about posAbilities or to become a shared living provider, visit www.posabilities.ca, call 604-299-4001, or email info@posabilities.ca. You can also find posAbilities on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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