Originally published on the Burnaby Now 

Developing relationships, deepening bonds, living good and full lives. That’s how posAbilities, a Burnaby-based service provider, defines shared living with persons who have developmental disabilities.

For posAbilities, this service is much more than simply providing a safe and caring place to stay when a family is matched with an individual in the community to care for them. It’s a link between people that can extend further.

Shared living is similar to foster care for those who aren’t familiar with the concept. Only distinct in that families are welcoming adults into their homes and lives. Although caregivers are compensated for the support they provide, it isn’t the main reason they take on this much needed service. The Association’s caregivers include families with children, same sex couples, singles or roommates.

“It goes beyond just sharing a home. That’s why we refer to our version of shared living as sharing a life,” said Louise Blackwell, manager of shared living at posAbilities, which supports individuals in homes stretching from Squamish to Abbotsford.

Caregivers often embrace the newest member of their household as one of the family, and go beyond what is expected. “We see folks thriving in new roles – like becoming a child’s auntie, or a youth’s big brother; right through to exploring the world and travelling overseas. The opportunities out there for people are amazing,” says Blackwell.

Equally amazing is the feeling of kinship that can manifest itself when posAbilities introduces people who truly are the perfect match for each other – their personalities, interests and lifestyles. One family in the posAbilities network is celebrating 20 years together, while about 60 to 70 percent of the families, have lived together for 10 or more years.

posAbilities emphasizes that a good match centers on a healthy amount of give and take in the relationship. “I think a lot of people who open their homes and lives come into this thinking they are the expert. Yet they come away knowing they have learned so much more, either about the person they are contracted to support, or about themselves,” Blackwell explained. “It’s definitely a two-way street,” she added. “There’s compromise, learning and growing.” It is after all, life sharing.

For more information about becoming a Shared Living Provider, please call Louise Blackwell at 778-945-3368 or email [email protected]