ICOF Support Network Planning

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1 ICOF Support Network Planning

2 Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. Henry Ford 2 P a g e

3 In the Company of Friends (ICOF) Support Networks! Whether you are just working through the Entrance Process, or you have been involved with ICOF for a long time now, you ve come to understand the importance of a Support Network in the ICOF model. In fact, there can be no ICOF model if a solid, well informed Support Network isn t in place! The Support Network you ve agreed to be part of is the very foundation of ICOF, and is critical to ensuring that the person you ve come here to support is able to live a full, meaningful life, with your help and knowledge! You ve no doubt had lots of questions about Support Networks, but we hope that many of those questions have been answered along the way so that you now understand that: An ICOF Support Network ideally should have between 4-8 people, so that the responsibilities the ICOF model requires of people can be distributed among several people. However, every ICOF Network is unique. An ICOF Support Network should consist of a mix of family and friends, of the individual s choice. Sometimes an individual may have come with none of those natural relationships, so Innovative LIFE Options Inc. (LIFE) staff may have brought you together here. If that s the case, you may need extra time to get to know the individual and others on the Support Network! That the most important role of everyone on the Support Network is the relationship that they have with the person at the center, because that deep, trusting relationship is what s most important to the person you re supporting. It s important to get to know the person, and to identify and celebrate the gifts which he or she brings to the community then to help him or her find ways of expressing those gifts! That as a member of a person s Support Network, you not only become part of their community, but you are a bridge to the greater community by inviting them into your life as a valued member of your own circle! That an ICOF Support Network has to plan to work together as a team, for the benefit of the person that they have come together to support. Even if you don t know each other well now, meetings, celebrations and communication will help develop trust and confidence in this new team. 3 P a g e

4 That even though the model is based on relationships, the ICOF Support Network also has many functional roles that must be taken on as part of their commitment to the person they are providing support to. That an ICOF Support Network can change lives in many wonderful ways! At this point we hope you re working together as a strong, healthy Support Network. But sometimes, when funding begins to flow, or when circumstance has weakened an existing Network, things can get very hectic and sometimes stressful! That s why it s really important to spend a little time thinking about some of the functional roles, how you are managing, how you re going to get stronger and to devise a plan that will help things to flow smoothly for everyone involved as you move forward in this journey together! How to Use This Booklet! The steps in this booklet are designed to help each individual and his/her Support Network think more deeply about the responsibilities you have agreed to manage, who can take the lead on various tasks that must be completed, how you are going to work together to do this, and what each member of the Network can commit to for the next few months. It might be a good time to spend a moment or two to revisit the Support Network Research that has been done, and remind ourselves of the impact that a Support Network can truly have! You will find this resource and all others mentioned at the back of this booklet. Let s spend a few minutes and review the research. Do you have any questions about any of the 4 sections outlined? Does it make you think any more deeply about the amazing possibilities provided by being part of a Support Network? Take a few moments and discuss your thoughts. For networks that have been around for a while, it might be great to revisit the Support Network Plan - What s Working? worksheet, together with your Resource Coordinator. It could help clarify where things are great, and where there is room for improvement! 4 P a g e

5 Now let s get started! One of the first things to do when figuring out what your Network responsibly might be, is to explore your own gifts and strengths, and see if there is a need for those gifts within the Network. There are a couple of tools you can call upon to help you do that. One tool is a called My Support Network that LIFE created, which provides a format to think about the gifts of the individual you are here to support, as well as the gifts and skills you might be able to offer yourself. A second option is what is known as Grey Rocker s Gift List. It asks you to think about the gifts and skills you each have by breaking them down into 3 different categories: Gifts of the Head, of the Heart, and of the Hands. As a Network, choose one of these tools and take the next minutes to each fill out the worksheet or if you prefer, you may choose a different tool that you are more comfortable working with. Think deeply about all that you can offer with the talents that you possess. Sometimes you may not realize how valuable your natural gifts and talents are until you write them down and think about how they could be used to enhance someone else s life! Bringing it all together Now that everyone has taken some time to think about what you can offer as your contribution to the network, let s think about some of the network roles and responsibilities. STAFFING: Is often one of the biggest challenges that a network has to face and work with. Staff needs to be advertised for, interviewed, hired and trained to work with the individual you re supporting. LIFE can be helpful in assisting you to learn many of the details involved in staff support, or you may consider contracting with Options for Services to help with this as well. But whatever you do, someone on the Network (preferably 2 people) needs to support the ICOF employer to guide staff, and at times also discipline staff with them. That Network member will also be the one that the staff know they can go to when they have questions. When you look at your own skills, is there someone on the Network that would be able to take that on? Someone that might already have experience? Someone that is willing to learn? Take some time and talk about this role. 5 P a g e

6 FINANCIAL: Even though the ICOF budget does provide funding to hire an accountant to take care of an employer s financial reports, there is also the option of someone on the Network taking on that responsibility. Whichever way your Network decides to go, it s the Network s role to monitor and manage the ICOF funding with the employer. So who amongst you is skilled at understanding financial reports and their implications? Is there more than one person that could team up to fulfill this role? Remember, many accountants will take care of payroll and provide a quarterly report, but often they don t worry about the bottom line, as that is not their job. It is the job of the network to oversee and always be aware of the financials to ensure that good, sound decisions can be made about spending. And, whoever is willing to take on that role, will also be the one to keep the rest of the network informed about where the finances are at. SUPPORT NETWORK COMMUNICATION LEAD: Communication is one of the most important aspects of any team, and a Support Network is no different. Every Network decides how they best like to communicate, whether it s taking minutes at their meetings to pass out afterwards, or ensuring that loops are started and closed when group input is required, or when something is going on that the Network needs to be aware of. Is there anyone among you that is a gifted communicator, or skilled at recording that could assume this role and keep the lines of communication open? COMMUNITY CONNECTOR: The purpose of the ICOF model is to provide employers with opportunities to have good, full lives in community, but sometimes individuals don t know where to start. Is there anyone on the network that is in the know about what is happening in and around your community? Someone involved with local sports/charities/culture? Someone who just always seems to be aware of what is happening around town? Could that person be enrolled to ensure that the employer and their staff also know about the opportunities to get out and participate in the community around them? RECIPROCITY SUPPORT: Sometimes, coming into ICOF can mean a very different life for someone who may not have had community and relationship opportunities in the past, so building and sustaining those relationships can be hard to do. They may not realize how important it is to show appreciation to staff, or to acknowledge Support Networks contributions, or the birthdays and special occasions their friends may be celebrating. Is there someone on the network that is really gifted at this? Who is the one amongst you that just always knows when the birthdays and anniversaries are, and how to make other s feel special and appreciated? 6 P a g e

7 These are just a few of the roles that can be assumed by a Network. Others might include, who would be responsible for making home repairs get addressed? Who can offer support to ensure yard work is done? Who knows how to help plan for a medical emergency? Each Network is different and unique, so each network will have different needs and roles to be fulfilled. Together, as a Network, take some time now to think about the suggestions above, and brainstorm other ideas of what will be needed as you move forward together. What are some of the things that your Network is going to be responsible for to be successful? Creating a solid plan! The last thing you need to do is to create a plan, based on all the things you ve thought about so far. Ideally, there would also be a commitment from everyone involved to commit to this plan for the next six months, then gather again and review how things are going. My Network s Plan for the Next 6 Months is another tool you can fill out together as you work on solidifying the Network member s roles. It will be your plan for the next six months. It will clarify who has agreed to what responsibilities, so that everyone is clear on their roles. Your LIFE Resource Coordinator is available to help if you wish to work through this tool. It would be helpful if someone on the Network can agree to be the Keeper of the Plan, so that everyone is kept on track with what was agreed upon, and where the Network is at with those commitments. 7 P a g e

8 As suggested, it is a good idea to gather in six months to review: What needs to be adjusted? Do roles need to be modified due to changes in life circumstance? Is someone able to take on more responsibility at this time? Has something changed that impacts the effectiveness of the Support Network? Remember that life happens and circumstances change, so there are times that you might not able to fulfill your commitment. That s okay, but if that does happen, the Network needs to agree on open communication with each other to ensure that others know how each person is managing. If someone is struggling, maybe someone else might be able to take on a role that s become too much. If not, maybe a new Network member could be invited onto the Network to help share the responsibilities or Options for Services could be contracted with for support. Everyone just needs to be open and honest about what they are able to handle, then as a team you can work together to figure the solution out! This new journey is going to be one of excitement, relationships and growth. Remember to have fun with and celebrate with each other along the way! Bon Voyage! 8 P a g e

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13 13 P a g e

14 Where To Find Us? Innovative LIFE Options Inc. 4-12O Maryland Street Winnipeg, Manitoba R3G 1L1 Phone: (204) Fax: (204) Toll Free Outside of Winnipeg Website: Other Publications: An Introduction to LIFE LIFE and the CSW: A Unique Partnership ICOF Entrance Process and First Steps ICOF Guidebook - Tips For the Individual and Support Network ICOF Protection Book A Guide to Reporting Abuse and Neglect Thinking About Your Future? What life will look like after Graduation? What Every Family, Friend and Community Member Should Know! What You Should Know - A Guide for the Individual 14 P a g e

15 Notes and Ideas: 15 P a g e

16 Revised August, P a g e

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