FAMILY SUPPORT & PLANNING SERVICES
Patrick started working with one of our Planning Facilitators, in April 2016. From their very first meeting, the Facilitator realized that Patrick had a clear idea of what he wanted to achieve in his life: to explore potential hobbies, to work towards moving out of the family home, to live more independently, to take on more responsibility, and to have friends involved in his life.
Our Facilitator, Patrick and his mom started to work on building the skills and community supports that he would need to achieve all his goals.
Hobbies were a good place to start. Patrick tried out several things including swimming and yoga. He decided to join his local YMCA and now has somewhere to swim regularly and to try out other physical activities.
The Facilitator discovered that Patrick liked to draw and connected him to a local animator with whom Patrick is taking weekly private animation classes and working on developing a short film. Not only are these classes helping Patrick become more creative, they are also helping him to think about the bigger picture within his art and in his life too.
The skills needed to live an independent, responsible life are also the ones that Patrick needed to develop to achieve his goal of moving out of the family home. The Facilitator invited Patrick’s mother, France, to a Caregiver Retreat one weekend in November 2016. The retreat’s focus was employment and housing – Patrick’s goals. During that retreat, France, despite her initial reservations, came to realize that Patrick was ready to become more independent. She supported his goal, worked with him and his Independent Facilitator to develop his skills and one year later Patrick moved into his own apartment.
To become as independent as possible Patrick worked at learning how to do grocery shopping, meal preparation, laundry, budgeting, and caring for the family home and dog. Patrick was already volunteering at his local museum and so he started to increase his hours. Today, he volunteers there four days a week and has completed more than 2,500 hours of volunteer work.
Over the year, Patrick, France and the Facilitator worked on a detailed future housing plan and budget. Patrick was connected to La Coalition des familles francophones d’Ottawa (CFFO) housing project and in November 2017 he moved into his own apartment. There he has weekly support to help him with his groceries, cooking, basic household chores and personal appointments.
That wasn’t all that was being planned for, and achieved, during this time. Patrick was working on his goal to have a network of friends in his life. His mother was introduced to Citizen Advocacy’s Lifetime Networks program when she attended the Caregiver Retreat. Lifetime Networks aims to ensure that people with disabilities have a community of friends in their lives beyond their immediate families. Families work with a Lifetime Networks’ Community Facilitator to build and support a network of people around an individual living with a disability, as we know that a good life grows from a genuine circle of support that evolves and changes as life does.
The first task of any family setting up a network is to choose a Network Facilitator. Patrick, his Planning Facilitator and the Lifetime Networks Coordinator met to discuss the qualities that were important for Patrick’s Community Facilitator. Patrick wanted someone who was reliable, calm, a good listener and someone who understood his needs. The Community Facilitator chosen was that person. She met with Patrick to discuss what he was looking for in his friend relationships. As well as quality, trust and reliability, Patrick wanted people who shared some of his interests (movies, cooking, reading, concerts, going for hikes and coffee). Working together the Community Facilitator, France and Patrick identified people who would be a good fit for Patrick’s network and in March 2018 the first network meeting was held with 11 people keen to be involved. It is a mark of how respected Patrick is in his community that the animator he works with and his museum manager were both at that first meeting. Patrick says “… although I live alone, there is a circle of support that is starting to form, which makes me feel safe, open and less isolated. I also like having a good balance of friends and family in my life. My main focus is to continue to build up my network to make it stronger and more efficient; to make it natural rather than having paid or voluntary support. For me it is the quality and intimacy of the relationships that matter, as the whole art of relationships are to build trust.”
Back in 2016, Patrick stated that he was “scared because I have never done it, but I want to try”. It is this attitude, coupled with the support he has received from his family, Citizen Advocacy and the community that has led to him achieving his goals and securing a good life. Patrick is an active member of the YMCA, a valued volunteer at his local museum, a friend to many in his Lifetime Network, an artist, an animator and an independent member of society.