Networks to provide space for connection, support, information
Michelle Strutzenberger


An upcoming holiday to the Philippines could be a form of respite for a person who is part of a posAbilities Shared Living arrangement, but she’s made it clear she wants the person she supports to join her. Her decision shows the richness of relationships that characterize much of the Shared Living program, and now there’s a chance to take that quality to another level.

A new network is being considered that would provide opportunity for people who open their homes and their lives for the posAbilities Shared Living arrangements to meet regularly.

The idea for the network received significant uptake at a Sept. 26 appreciation luncheon posAbilities hosted. The luncheon recognized and celebrated the people who open their homes for the Shared Living program.

Attendees spoke of being happy to be recognized and having a chance to connect with people sharing a common experience.

When asked, they said they liked the idea of making this connection a regular event, where they can share the challenges and rewards of being part of the Shared Living program, as well as learn from outside experts.

A new network will likely be formed for each of the Surrey, Vancouver, Burnaby and tricities areas.

PosAbilities team manager Louise Blackwell says the intention is to create something that aligns with what these families and individuals would find most helpful.

Shared Living is the newest term to describe a residential model that involves individuals or families contracting with an agency to share their home and lives with a person who has an intellectual disability.

The Sept. 26 appreciation luncheon for families and individuals who open their lives and homes for the posAbilities Shared Living arrangements was well-received.

PosAbilities is one of a number of agencies throughout B.C. co-ordinating Shared Living arrangements. Funding is primarily flowed through Community Living British Columbia.

Louise says rich relationships can be found throughout the posAbilities program, which engages about 80 people on the provision end. While the calibre of these relationships is especially noteworthy between those actually living together, it also shines bright between the three posAbilities co-ordinators and the families who open up their homes.

“There is a huge trust that’s involved there. We’re not in the homes every single day checking up on things, although we’re available by phone or e-mail 24 hours a day and do some formal monitoring visits as well as attend meetings with other stakeholders,” Louise says.

“But oftentimes families will invite us to tea or to have dinner together.

“I think that speaks volumes about the type of relationships we have with our care providers.”

That same trust and sense of camaraderie is also clear in the relationships between the posAbilities team and the people supported, Louise says, noting people connect regularly with the team with any questions or concerns or just to say hi.

Finding a way to keep these relationships front and centre will be absolutely vital going forward, she adds.

“The program will continue to grow and I think that as it does we have to keep at the forefront the model and why we do the work we do,” Louise says.

“It’s all based on relationships with people. That’s the bottom line, that’s where it starts and that’s how the program can be successful.”

This new set of networks will most certainly play an important role in all that as well.

To learn more about plans for the networks, please contact Louise at lblackwell(at)

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