For some people living with mental health disabilities, a support person is essential for making transportation, services, employment or another activity more accessible. At the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Sudbury Manitoulin Branch, the practice of including a support person when requested has always been respected and valued. In recognition of the sensitive and confidential interactions that are often involved with mental health service delivery, the organization recently took this practice to the next level by developing a way for clients, support persons and staff to establish expectations, roles and responsibilities.
Chantal Makela is CMHA Sudbury Manitoulin’s Manager of Administrative Services. She explains that the organization developed two simple documents that are used when individuals accessing services bring a support person to the agency: Consent Form for Presence of Support Person (docx) and Support Person Guidelines and Expectations (docx). Makela describes the documents as “allowing for greater communication and an opportunity to set clear expectations. The person accessing services is supported; the support person understands their role and service is provided to meet the needs of the individual.” For Makela, this reflects the agency’s overall approach to philosophy which is based in Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practice and recovery philosophy by accepting where people are at in their journey and valuing and recognizing the importance of supports.
Sometimes, conversations surrounding roles and expectations arise; these at times can be challenging conversations to have. Having these documents can be helpful when reviewing guidelines and expectations. If someone does not want to sign the forms, the door is opened to further explore what the individual may need/want and can lead to further discussion surrounding how CMHA offers support. As Krysten Ranger, a Rehabilitation Coordinator at CMHA Sudbury Manitoulin, explains: “It’s a consistent way of respecting people where they are at and ensuring everyone’s needs are being met.”
For more information, please contact:
Chantal Makela, Manager of Administrative Services
Canadian Mental Health Association – Sudbury/Manitoulin
705-675-7252 ext. 241