October 04, 2016
Addiction… homelessness… mental health issues… These are the challenges regularly facing participants in the Phoenix Society’s “Access to Employment Program,” locally known as ASTEP. But, the free program, which is a specialized WorkBC centre, helps people succeed despite the multiple barriers.
It comes down to a single principle: integrated care, according to Program Manager Jake Sheridan. “When we’re working with participants we’re looking at all aspects of their life,” he says. “It’s a much more holistic approach, well beyond simply employment.”
In addition to addiction, homelessness and mental health issues many participants also have to deal with:
How can a person be expected to get a job if they face any of these problems, never mind more than one? “Our focus on building a solid working relationship is how we ultimately help participants move into more stable situations. This leads to better outcomes,” Jake says.
As an example of the success Jake mentions four case studies:
A 58-year-old, with life-threatening health problems, who had been an addict his entire life: Doctors told him he wouldn’t likely live much longer. He cleaned up and went through the employment program. Now he’s glad there’s no mandatory retirement age because he wants to keep working. He’s been employed for more than three years as a supervisor in his dream job in landscaping.
“Because our program provides just the right amount of support,” Jake says, “it is highly cost effective.”
Depending on needs and eligibility, it can also include financial supports such as training, work clothing, tools, transportation, educational upgrading, local health and counselling services, housing, and other relevant community services.
“Some of our participants live onsite within the Phoenix Centre, so they have added advantage of immediate access to a range of co-located supports,” Jake adds. “We look at ALL factors. “That’s why we get the outcomes we do.”