LiveWorkPlay offers two distinct categories of support:
- Employment Supports
- Community Connecting and Supported Independent Living
Our employment supports are focused on matching the right employee with the right employer for a mutually beneficial and lasting relationship. To achieve this, we have an employment team that focuses on three distinct roles.
Employment Partnership Development
Our employer partnerships teams distribute their time between private sector (from small businesses to large corporations) and government (municipal, provincial, and federal) employers. They are focused on developing relationships with employers and learning how LiveWorkPlay can help meet their human resources needs by connecting them to the right candidate with an intellectual disability and/or autism.
Workplace Inclusion Specialists
Our workplace inclusion team has a focus on employer readiness. They work with a business or government department to understand and implement workplace improvements related to accommodations and inclusion. This concept aims to ensure that when a new employee with an intellectual disability and/or autism starts work, the employer – supervisors, co-workers, and others – are ready to welcome, support, include, and benefit from the new employee without need of significant assistance or intervention from LiveWorkPlay. We are ready to help with any challenges that might arise, but when we are working effectively with an employer, they have confidence in their own ability to support an employee referred by LiveWorkPlay.
Employment Discovery Specialists
Last but certainly not least, our employment discovery specialists work directly with individual job seekers. While this may include some traditional employment readiness activities like resume preparation and interview skills, the main focus is on building a relationship whereby the individual is comfortable sharing their employment interests, and in particular, identifying the type of workplace that is suited to their personality, talents, and interests.
Our three-pronged approach to employment supports can be confusing to job seekers or their family members who may be expecting a more traditional approach of creating a resume, practicing for interviews, and searching the want ads. We have found that this approach is highly ineffective – it does create the impression of “taking action” but for all job seekers – particularly those with intellectual disabilities and/or autism – this is not an effective approach to employment.
Unemployment for this population is in excess of 75% but LiveWorkPlay delivers an employment outcome for almost 100% of individuals who access our employment supports. This does not always happen quickly – it can take many months – but we are focused on a successful outcome, not a quick win that will result in job loss due to a poor fit, lack of preparation, or lack of understanding of the needs and abilities of the employee.
Community Connecting And Supported Independent Living
Our Community Connector and Supported Independent Living team works with adults with intellectual disabilities, autistic persons, and individuals with a dual diagnosis to help them meet their goals for community engagement and life in their own home. We deliver these services within the framework of the seven principles of the Just Enough Support approach.
Community Connecting is all about accessing and enjoying all that the community has to offer, including education, arts, sports, recreation, volunteering, and citizenship. We also help facilitate friendships and unpaid relationships with others, with and without disabilities.
This is supported by our one to one matching initiative (pairing an individual we support with an interested member of the public) as well as Friday Night Meet-Ups, where we help coordinate small groups of disabled and non-disabled individuals to come together and enjoy different community activities in different parts of the city, every Friday, all year long. It could be dinner and a movie, or a hike along the canal.
The phrase “Supported Independent Living” (also known by the acronym SIL) is used by many agencies and systems and may carry a different meaning than how it is delivered at LiveWorkPlay. For our purposes, this term is not a prescriptive model, it simply means helping the individual in the manner of their choosing for success in their home environment.
Depending on the person, SIL support from LiveWorkPlay could include help with meal planning and preparation, financial management, organizing social gatherings, and much. This is done with respect for the autonomy of the individual and their home. We do not tell our members what to eat, or when to clean, or how to spend their money. If they ask for help with certain nutritional goals or maintaining their home or managing their budget, we can provide it. But it is not our role to attempt to manipulate the diet of our members, their cleaning schedule, or their spending habits. We respect their right to choose, including choices that might be judged “unhealthy.”
This is not to say that we do not care if our members are not eating well, maintaining a healthy home, or managing their finances well. Our involvement in people’s lives usually results in positive change. But it is not our mission and not our job to expect people with intellectual disabilities to do more than other citizens, who do not have external regulation of their food, home, and finances. Our role is to help remove barriers that prevent people with intellectual disabilities from experiencing the community on an equal basis with other citizens.