Full steam in reverse?

Community Living British Columbia's chief executive officer Rick Mowles has rolled out significant changes to the way the provincial government authority delivers its services. Under the previous model, which was put into place in 2005, work that had been done by social workers was split between so-called "facilitators" and "quality service analysts." Facilitators became responsible for developing support plans for the developmentally disabled, while analysts were charged with approving those plans. But, according to special needs advocate Dawn Steele, an operational changes memo obtained exclusively by Public Eye appears to abandon aspects of that model.

"These changes restore many elements of the traditional one-stop shop social worker role. So, in many respects, they're throwing out a lot of what has been built over six years - which is based on this premise of two separate command structures - and going back to square one. What a waste!"

That being said, though, Ms. Steele said the changes "do acknowledge the serious complaints that I and others have been consistently hearing and conveying since CLBC's inception, so kudos to CLBC for finally hearing and acting." Specifically, Ms. Steel explained the separation of authority between facilitators and analysts resulted in a "strictly divided silo bureaucracies of planners" that became a source of "petty, unnecessary frustrations."

But, even though some of those frustrations may be relieved, she says, "The bizarre part is that the role of front line staff will apparently now focus more than ever on redirecting the people who come to CLBC for help to go find it somewhere else. It's bizarre that the agency responsible will now more than ever be set up to send people away to find community living supports somewhere else."

Community Living British Columbia, though, disputes Ms. Steele's statements. Responding to a request for comment placed last week, authority external relations advisor Lisa Gardonio writes, "We are modifying some operational practices at Community Living BC to better streamline and enhance our services for the individuals and families we support. These changes will provide staff with more time to focus on building the infrastructure necessary to fully implement our service delivery model."

Continued Ms. Gardonio, "We have always said we will listen to what works best for individuals and families and we are doing just that. These changes reflect input and feedback from both our staff and the individuals we serve." The following is a complete copy of the aformentioned memo.

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Focus on Individuals and Families - Operational Changes

Further to CLBC's ongoing commitment to continual improvement and in response to feedback from individuals, families and CLBC staff, CLBC is modifying some operational practices to better streamline and enhance our services.

Current Situation

CLBC's commitment to develop support plans is having a number of unintended consequences:
* Individuals and families increasingly link plans with funding and resource allocation
* Individuals and families are routinely waitlisted to have a plan developed
* People with completed plans are often waitlisted for services or offered existing programs
* Time spent on plans that are not implemented pre-empts time for community development
* Plans submitted by individuals, families and providers take analysts significant time to review and assess
* Individuals and families are increasingly requesting continuity with contacts at CLBC for family support, information and self advocacy issues prior to plan development

This situation negatively impacts CLBC's staff time and financial resources. The service system remains crisis driven and individuals, families and staff are becoming increasingly frustrated.

Actions

CLBC will take these actions to support the move to a more proactive person-centred system:
* Individuals and families will;
* Have the name of a facilitator to call for information and advice
* Be advised of funding availability prior to any discussions about participating in a person-centred planning process to access supports and services
* Be offered support to help gain access to generic and informal community supports, without developing a plan
* Receive the support they require from facilitators to resolve their concerns and increase their capacity for the future
Facilitator time will be prioritized to provide family support and for plan development where CLBC can implement the funding request in the plan. Funding priorities will be determined between Managers and Community Councils at the local level.
* Some services such as day programs, supported employment, respite, and life-skills training may require less detailed planning. Local Managers to determine the requirements.
* Whenever possible, analysts will use the Guide to Support Allocation and the new negotiating instructions when designating new funding or when reviewing existing contracts
* Confirmation of eligibility will become the responsibility of facilitators
By streamlining the planning process, and better organizing responses to individuals and families;
* Facilitators can dedicate time to:
* Expand capacity of generic and other unfunded community supports
* Work with individuals and families to explore how generic and informal supports can meet their needs where they are waitlisted for formal services and/or planning
* Explore partnerships and cost-sharing arrangements with school boards and Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance (MEIA) who share a mandate around planning and/or provision of supports
* Provide ongoing assistance to individuals and families who require additional support
* Analysts can dedicate time to reviewing how contracted funds are expended and un-bundling existing funding for individual support plans and individualized funding.

2 Comments

You have given us lots to think about. My family experience has been that we are faced with huge waitlists both for life skills services as well as for assistance of receiving support to complete a plan by a CLBC facilitator.(3 year waitlist for that kind of help, we are told)We have given up on the hope of receiving equal access to support services. Sean, thanks for sharing the 2005 document about the previous model. I hope that CLBC is stepping back and accepting that this model is not working. It is okay to admit that but also equally important to actually say so. Life for us is not easy and we don't have time to have the task of a clbc staff downloaded onto us. What we want is some easy to access support services.

All children and parents of children with special needs require supports of some kind which do not exist. The only difference for families who actually fill the requirements needed for acceptance onto the CLBC waitlist is the illusion they might get something which is worthwhile in spite of the bureaucratic rigmarole they have to struggle and wait through.

My son has many special needs; he has as many problems where therapy and supports are needed as do many children who are accepted as needing CLBC supports. But as his IQ is somewhere over 70 and he is not at this time diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum we are not eligible for anything.

There is nowhere in the BC Government "social services " where we can find supports or even help to find supports for home, respite, or anything outside of school. (except for some very short term supports if you happen to be investigated as being the one causing your child's special needs and health problems, or are willing to go to "protection" branch; and that libel is, of course, not helpful for families.)

I, as his lone parent, like many parents have to spend a lot of time fighting and working to access the few in-school supports he gets; while I do my own research trying to find the best way to help him on my own at home.

The government website about "special needs' is all smoke and mirrors. You wander through that maze and then find . . . nothing for most children and families.

Thank you,

Lenore S. Clemens

Vancouver, BC

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