Epic Opportunities has begun rolling out a new, more community-based model of support for many of the people it serves.
The new strategy is intended to augment Epic Opportunities’ existing day services by providing opportunities for people supported through the program to become more engaged in the community. The aim is to have people spend their day involved in everyday activities in the community rather than focusing on starting and ending their day at a specific day service location.
Epic Opportunities launched the initiative this past January and it is scheduled to be completely implemented by July 1. The new approach to day services is part of a five-year strategic plan for Epic Opportunities that was introduced at the organization’s annual general meeting in 2015.
Executive Director Ruby Reimer says the goal is to have people served through day services spend more meaningful time in the community engaged in activities tailored to their specific wants and needs.
“We want to transition to a model that’s more about community engagement and opportunity rather than spending the day at a single location,” she says.
The change will mean people will spend far less time using transportation services to and from a centralized day service location and more time in the community, she adds. It will also provide better access for people to tap into community resources such as fitness facilities, learning centres and volunteer opportunities as well as allow the organization to better deploy its existing staffing resources.
“Although transportation services will still be provided and needed, we will be able to eliminate the back and forth from home to day service and go directly to locations of interest within the community,” Reimer adds.
Reimer says early feedback Epic Opportunities has received about the initiative from people and their families has been overwhelmingly positive to date.
“It’s going extremely well so far. The majority of people are thrilled and excited about the changes,” she says.
One of those people is Geraldine Lindgren, whose son Trevor has been supported by Epic Opportunities for the past 25 years.
“I’m all for it,” she says. “This way people will be able to go out and do more of what they want to participate in.”
Mrs. Lindgren says she expects the new approach will help lessen some of the frustration her son felt in the past. He will no longer have to go to sleep or wake up as early in order to access transportation to and from a centralized service location. He will also be able to spend more time participating in community-based activities he enjoys such as tobogganing and ice skating at his neighbourhood park.
Despite the changes, people who received daytime support from Epic Opportunities will still be able to choose to be part of centralized activities. In fact, the organization plans to undertake major renovations to its 250 Goulet St. and 1745 Portage Ave. locations to enhance the services it provides at those two sites.
“People will be able to choose from 1745 Portage, 250 Goulet or another community-based location they think is best-suited to their needs,” Reimer says. “And they’ll still be able to access whatever services they need at those locations even if they’re not going there every day.”