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Employment and Meaningful Activity


 The organization acknowledges, values and supports people to gain employment as directed by the person. When that is not the person’s goal, the organization assists them to spend time in ways that are personally meaningful and fulfilling to them. Such activities should enhance and promote the person’s defined outcomes and goals.

What does this look like?

Organizations providing support in the areas of employment and/or personal development clearly articulate the scope and purpose of services to assist people and their support networks to choose supports that best align with their goals and preferences. Where there are limitations to the types and range of services that they might provide, the organization clearly identifies these in advance of commencing services (i.e. medication support, health or personal care, etc.). 

Where staff have a role in assisting people and their support networks to plan for the future, employment should always be the first consideration. If someone does not choose employment, the decision should be based on informed choice. Making an informed choice about employment is an individualized process and ideally this process begins when they are still in school. People all have unique histories and backgrounds and some people may have limited experiences and information to make a decision about employment.

The organization must work together with the person and their support network to determine and provide opportunities for activities that support making an informed choice about employment as well as what support they require to obtain it.

  • Discovery: The first step in making an informed choice about employment starts with the discovery of people’s skills, abilities and interest. This discovery process involves the person and others who are important to them in articulating meaningful life outcomes and preferences.
  • Experience: If a person has no volunteer or employment history, then the person and support network should consider trying new discovery experiences in the community to determine interests, abilities, skills, and needs.
  • Opportunity for Trial Work or Volunteering: The organization can also offer or provide the person with access to job exploration activities including volunteer work and/or trial work opportunities, if the person is interested.
  • Information: The organization highlights the benefits of employment to the person along with any impacts on services or supports that may result from a change in employment status.

Depending upon the person’s goals, abilities and preferences, they may choose from a range of available support services:

Employment focused supports include a range of services. The goal of employment services is to support individuals to increase their independence, productivity, and community integration by developing skills that will lead to competitive employment. Access to employment enables the person to engage in community life, control personal resources, increase self-sufficiency, and receive services in the community.

While supports are individualized and driven by the person’s defined goals, all supports are focused on ultimately gaining employment.

The organization works with the person along with those that they choose, to identify a person centred employment support plan, along with the supports that they will require to achieve their goals. The plan articulates strategies to overcome barriers to employment and identifies any clinical, assistive technology and therapy supports necessary for the person to succeed in employment.

These supports may include:

  • Job development, carving, restructuring & maintenance
  • Job sampling or trial work experience
  • Developing a résumé (written or visual) that identifies a person’s relevant vocational experience.
  • The organization supports people to explore and seek opportunity for career advancement through growth in wages, hours, experience, and promotions. People are provided the opportunity to participate in negotiating their work schedule, break/lunch times, and leave and medical benefits with their employer.
  • A job coach may be provided to assist individuals with personal care needs in community employment settings when natural supports are not available. Services must be provided in a way that does not embarrass, disrespect, or restrict a person from making friendships and co-worker relationships.
  • Natural/peer supports should be explored and encouraged to potentially fade the paid supports when natural supports are in place and stable.
  • The organization may arrange for, provide, or teach the person on transportation supports, including the use of public transportation options;
  • The organization assesses the need for and will arrange for required assistance needed for personal care and assistance with daily living (such as eating, toileting and personal hygiene);
  • The organization coordinates, provides or facilitates health care needs such as medication administration, health care interventions and monitoring.
  • Developing and/or identifying community based job opportunities that are in line with the person’s skills and interests.
  • Supporting the person in gaining the skills or knowledge to advocate for him/herself in the workplace.
  • Educating the person and their staff on rights and responsibilities related to employment.
  • Arranging for or providing benefits counseling where needed
  • Facilitating/developing job accommodations and use of assistive technology such as communication devices.
  • Assisting the person to gain and/or increase job seeking skills training, which include, but are not limited to interviewing skills, résumé writing, and work ethics training.
  • Assisting employers with requests for reasonable accommodations, disability awareness training and workplace modifications or make referrals to appropriate agencies.
  • Utilizing community employment resources;
  • Maintaining ongoing communication with various levels of the company to assure satisfaction for both the person and the company;
  • Assisting the person with the development of natural supports;
  • Assisting the person to communicate and express his/her needs with co-workers;
  • Advocating for the person to be integrated into the work culture, including attending job–related social functions, interacting with their non-disabled co-workers during lunch or break times as well as full access to employer designated dining or break areas;
  • When a person elects to start his/her own business, the organization supports:
    • completing a market analysis of product/business viability;
    • assisting with and/or utilizing community resources to develop a business plan, a business infrastructure to sustain the business over time and marketing plans;
    • assisting with obtaining a business license or incorporation documents and with completing any other business paperwork required by municipal or provincial codes;
    • supporting the person to develop and implement a system for bookkeeping and records management; and
    • providing effective on-the-job training and skill acquisition.

When employment is not an identified goal for the person, they may choose to gain services and supports focused on non-work related skill development and activities.

Personal development services – Such services are designed to develop, maintain and enhance an individual’s personal care and social skills, emotional growth, physical development, and community skills. The main goals of such services are to create opportunities for personally meaningful activities and roles that maximize the person’s outcomes and goals. Key features of such services are:

  • Individualized supports for each person;
  • Promotion of community membership and contribution;
  • Use of human and social capital to decrease dependence on paid supports; and
  • Provision of supports that are outcome-oriented and regularly monitored.

The organization ensures that each person’s opinions and known preferences guide the choice and development of activities. Each person is an active participant in the activities they engage in and their actions and responses determine future plans.

Examples of activities may include participating in clubs, classes, or recreational activities in the community; learning new skills to become more independent; volunteering or membership in community groups

Organizations providing personal development focused supports may provide the following range of services:

  • Creating individualized schedules that can be modified easily based on individual needs, preferences, and circumstances and that outline planned activities per day, week and month including date, time, location, and cost of the activity.
  • Building activities to support the person’s goals and outcomes, as appropriate.
  • Assisting with skills application activities in typical community settings (e.g. banking or shopping).
  • Providing supports for volunteer activities, offering information and coaching to community members to support the person’s success.
  • Identifying and connecting the person to community resources.
  • Arranging or providing opportunities (time, information, materials, and other resources) to pursue age appropriate hobbies, recreation/leisure activities, and interests with other community members. The focus should be on supporting people in the most integrated environment possible.
  • Providing opportunities for active individual choice-making during the day, including daily schedules, activities, skill building, and community participation.
  • Providing information pertaining to individual rights and responsibilities in the community.
  • Assisting in the development of self-advocacy skills.
  • Providing support to the person to assume social roles that are valued by both the person and the community.
  • Providing support to the person in becoming actively engaged in community sponsored activities specifically related to the person’s (as compared to the organization’s) interests.
  • Assisting with budgeting to pay for adult education activities designed to promote personal growth, development, and community integration as guided by the person.
  • Exploring and creating a diverse range of experiences (multi-sensory, sports, music, art, culinary, social, literature, drama, dance, nature, gardening, geo-caching,
  • Arranging and assisting the person to participate in community classes. This may include arranging for natural or staff support while in class.
  • Providing and training on transportation supports, including the use of public transportation options.
  • The organization coordinates, provides or facilitates health care needs such as medication administration, health care interventions and monitoring.
  • Addresses communication needs and supports, such as need for interpretation, support to use assistive devices, etc.
  • Providing basic assistance needed for personal care and activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, toileting, and personal hygiene.
  • Assisting with the development of natural support networks that complement or replace paid supports through development of personal relationships/friendships with people who are not disabled and who have similar interests and preferences.
  • Arranging access to age appropriate adult education opportunities available to the public (e.g. coursework or conferences with non-disabled peers).

While many of these services occur in organizations that are referred to as Day Services, meaningful activity and contribution is not limited to specific hours or days of the week and should be a focus for all service providers.

The organization ensures that staff are provided with training in how to facilitate employment and/or activities in ways that make them meaningful for the people involved.

The organization collaborates and partners with community and business organizations in order to leverage opportunities for the people they serve. Staff are knowledgeable about community resources.

Staff who are engaged in job development and supporting employment receive specific training and competency to fulfill these roles.

How would you know this is happening? (Evidence)

What you see in systems:

Organizational materials clearly articulate their purpose and scope of service in an accessible, easy to understand format and are available for people looking for service.

Support plans articulate specific employment or personal development supports that are provided to each person that maximize their desired life outcomes.

What you see in actions:

People are supported to gain employment if this is what they wish. Where that is not their preference, they are engaged in valued activities that enhance and promote their personal outcomes.

Staff are confident and competent in the skills required to support the person to gain employment and have the tools and information they need to provide a range of opportunities to people.

Staff are trained and practiced in helping people discover their gifts and talents, identify their goals and engage in activities that work towards achievement of their stated goals.

Resources to support achieving guideline:

Bridging to Adulthood – A Protocol for Transitioning Students with Exceptional Needs from School to Community https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/docs/policy/transition/

Customized Employment Competency Model – https://www.dol.gov/odep/pdf/2011cecm.pdf

Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities – https://www.gov.mb.ca/wd/ites/vrmanual/index.html

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Right to Work and Employment https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/article-27-work-and-employment.html

Griffin-Hammis Associates, Inc (GHA): http://www.griffinhammis.com/

Marc Gold and Associates (MGA) :http://www.marcgold.com/

Association of People Supporting Employment (APSE): http://apse.org/

Institute for Community Inclusion – Job Search/Advancement https://www.communityinclusion.org/topic.php?topic_id=3

Connectability – Employment Resources https://connectability.ca/2016/07/05/employment/

CQL Employment Companion Guide

Planning Transition Services for Youth with Disabilities – Inclusion Winnipeg

Related Guidelines:

Supporting Inclusion & Community Participation

Supporting Lifelong Learning

Person Centred Planning

Support Plan Documentation

Creating Home

Fun & Recreation

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