In this section of the toolkit, you will find the resources to help you recruit, hire and manage the supports that you need to help realize your unique housing model. You will find guides, websites and documents to help you consider things such as how to find supports, use contracts, know the labour laws, and seek legal advice to name a few. This information will hopefully give you the confidence to hire and manage your own support worker (s) if you choose to do so.
This section will help you find the information and resources to:
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a. Recruit, hire and manage your supports
When thinking of an Individualized Residential Model, employing and retaining support staff is an area that takes a lot of time and energy. If you have never hired or managed people before then the idea of hiring your own support for your loved one may be rather daunting, but it need not be so. You may say that you don’t know the first thing about managing employees, but if you look more closely, you’ll find that you are likely managing and overseeing many people in your life on a regular basis.
Running a busy household takes many skills such as negotiation, mediation, effective communication and time management, not to mention, intuitiveness and good judgement when it comes to knowing what’s best for your family. You likely didn’t just pick your loved one’s school, day programs, dentist or doctor without doing some preliminary research. The same goes when you are buying a home, you don’t randomly choose the people who will be helping you make major life decisions. It’s no different when choosing the right support for your loved one. Just because it’s not in the guise of a business or agency, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have what it takes to recruit, hire and manage support staff to help with your own unique supported housing model.
When you first start to think about hiring, remember the key to choosing well is compatibility, much in the same way that one chooses a life partner or a roommate. Depending on how much support you require you are essentially inviting someone into your life, home, and into your loved one’s living space, so you will want to make sure that they are a good fit for all. Starting with people in your family member’s social circle, people they already have a positive connection with and people who have a background in support/social work would be logical to approach first. Don’t be afraid to get creative when looking for paid/unpaid supports, you could look towards younger active seniors in your community, college students and newcomers that may be looking for both affordable housing and employment, or for experience if unpaid in exchange for free or reduced rent.
You may decide to place an ad in Kijiji or other job search sites, use word of mouth, find a family support group to share a wanted ad with or through a professional agency. Be sure to involve your loved one who will be receiving the supports as much as possible during the hiring process.
Depending on the level of support required you may want to consider a blend of natural supports and formal supports. Staff can be independent providers, employees or agency staff (i.e. Community Living). Each of these options has different responsibilities, liabilities and risks. You’ll probably want to become aware of employment legislation, so look for more information online at Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act.
Once you have chosen your support staff be sure to use a contract for all staff that you employ, whether paid or unpaid, this will help you to maintain professionalism, accountability, and legal safeguards. You can find some examples of contracts and hiring tips at respiteservices.com. WSIB Ontario may also provide helpful information on the subject.