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The Changing Role of Community Support Workers

June 30, 2010

The Changing Role of Community Support Workers

Spectrum’s “101 Friends” Personal Support Networks project is excited to offer this day with two leaders respected for their innovative, person-centred approaches to inclusion and personal support network facilitation.  Aaron Johannes and Susan Stanfield have been co-directors of Spectrum Society for Community Living in Vancouver for over 20 years.  During that time, the focus in community living has shifted away from institutional to more individualized services, with the role of Community Support Workers changing dramatically from one of care-taking to facilitation – meaning, “to make easier.”  

What exactly is it we’re making easier?   How do we do that?  

 Our new roles as champions, facilitators, supporters and organizers require different skillsets as we support self-governance and the leadership of people with disabilities (and their friends and families) in their own lives.   This interactive and participatory workshop will have lots of opportunities to interact and learn from each other about what constitutes best-practice today.   This one-day workshop is for Community Support Workers and those who lead them.  Registration: 100.00, includes lunch.

9 – 4:30, July 12th, 2010

Vancouver Unitarian Church at 949 West 49th Avenue

To register please contact Judy at or 604-323-1433 or online at

 “In the context of supporting people with disabilities, [facilitation] is about setting things up for success, knowing when to intervene with just the right amount of support, and when to step back….We do people a disservice when we over-support them.

     “That’s not to say we simply leave people to their own devices. Facilitation isn’t a passive state, it’s a supportive approach, an active instructional process.”

– From “Facilitation: Key Concepts,” by Susan Stanfield.

 Some of the topics to be covered:

 –      The future of the role of the Community Support Worker

–      What does good facilitation look like?

–      New directions in leadership

–      The influence of our history

–      The professionalization of supports

–      Creativity

Susan Stanfield, Director, Communications and Quality Assurance, Spectrum Society for Community Living

Susan has worked in community living for nearly 30 years.  She coordinated recreation programs and volunteer services for the Autism Society of B.C. while attending university, and worked for a number of local community agencies prior to co-founding Spectrum Society in 1987.  As a co-director of Spectrum, Susan oversees the information management and infrastructure that supports Spectrum’s services to individuals and families in the greater Vancouver area.  She lives in Burnaby with her two sons.                  

Aaron Johannes, Director, Research, Training and Development, Spectrum Society for Community Living

Aaron is a Co-Director of Spectrum and the proud nephew, cousin and uncle to people with disabilities.  He and his partner have been foster-parents for ten years to teens with significant disabilities and they also have a son, adopted through MCFD’s Special Needs Adoption program; among various other roles he has been gratified to learn from, he has been a Provincial Advisor for British Columbia People First, a facilitator with the Vela Microboard Association and a free-lance writer.  His passions are art, literature, business philosophy and gardening.

Susan and Aaron were Spectrum’s project leaders for a CLBC-funded demonstration project on building personal support networks, in 2007.  They co-authored a report on this project entitled With a Little Help from my Friends, and a book entitled 101 Ways to Make Friends: Ideas and Conversation Starters for People with Disabilities and Their Supporters.  To read more about their work, check out

About Spectrum’s Personal Support Networks Project, 101 Friends:Beginning 3 years ago with a small six month CLBC grant and a vision of supporting folks with disabilities to expand and deepen their connections in their communities, we’ve become increasingly passionate about the potential of those we support to not only join more fully in their communities, but provide leadership and enrichment.   We’ve facilitated groups from Nashville TN to Fort St John, meeting staff, self advocates and families.
“The function of freedom is to free someone else.”  Toni Morrison

  Visit our website  Sign up for and/or contribute to our provincial e-newsletter!  If you’d like to host a workshop for a community group, agency or self-advocates’ group, contact us at
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