Staff say individuals succeed in many ways during service’s inaugural year
Lisa Bailey

In its inaugural year, posAbilities’ employment service has supported individuals who have a disability in securing job opportunities, but success also comes with their empowerment through the person-centred process and supportive relationships.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth and changes in individuals,” employment specialist Seema Tripathi says, as they make choices and grow in confidence and independence.

Fellow employment specialist Leah Webb agrees, citing the example of a person who has progressed in learning English as a second language and become involved in the community on many different levels. She’s working and able to express her wants and needs.

“I think success can be measured in many different ways,” Leah says. Finding and maintaining employment is one success but so, too, are the stepping stones reached to that point.

“Anyone can find a job but I think when you come forth and present yourself as a well-balanced individual who’s happy in life in so many different aspects and making your own choices on how to spend your time and money, I think that speaks more,” Leah says.

She says individuals learn a lot about themselves through the employment service’s person-centred approach. Each person is recognized as unique and works with staff to discover their strengths, wants and needs then acquire the tools or training needed to work in a position of their choice and capability. The person served drives the employment process, with the employment specialists’ support.

A community connector at the service supports individuals to independently access community services and activities important to daily living, promoting the development of natural supports which foster inclusion.

Leah says “there’s no limit” to what individuals who have a disability can bring to the workplace.

“I think any person regardless of their abilities has something to offer, and my role is figure out what it is they have to offer.”

Seema says the employment service, which fosters economic inclusion as part of community inclusion, “Is the best place where individuals can showcase their abilities.”

She adds that buy-in of families and caregivers has been a key to the service’s work. Initially, staff devoted a lot of time and energy to conversations with individuals and their support systems as the employment service engaged people from day and life skills programs on a new journey towards employment.

“This was a big change,” Seema says, noting expectations and structure were very different.

Staff talked with individuals and their families and caregivers about what this change would look like and the potential benefits. They’re now seeing the possibilities of moving towards inclusion and independence.

“The proof is in the pudding,” Seema says.

Considering the future, she hopes to support individuals in upgrading their skills and tapping resources to meet challenges associated with some jobs, such as those worked on a graveyard shift.

Leah looks to expanding relationships in the community with employers as well as other agencies and resources to support individuals in everyday living.

Both she and Seema say they’re encouraged to continue their work, and work harder, by the smiles on the face of persons served.

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