Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your organization?
Janet Redman is the Executive Director of Independent Living Waterloo Region (ILWR). The organization has been a part of the KW4 community for over 40 years. ILWR supports persons with disabilities in the community with individualized services that provide them the means to live independently. ILWR’s Attendant Services program provide personal support services to those with disabilities. They have 24-hour Assisted Living options with staff on site, and Attendant Outreach programs where individuals live in their own homes and the staff come to them to provide assistance.
The organization also has an Independent Living Resource program, which offers a Community Resource program (CRP). CRP assists individuals who identify with a disability with one on one support, helping them access tools in the community such as food security, housing, equipment or assisting filling out forms. This program also offers peer activities, many of which are held virtually. ILWR’s Access Fund supports the purchasing of accessibility equipment, medical equipment and adaptive technology. ILWR is also the Administrative office for the Direct Funding program for Central-Southwestern Ontario. Direct Funding is an innovative program that allows adults with physical disabilities to become Self-Managers; managing their attendants, including recruitment, hiring/firing, and scheduling to meet their own specific daily needs.
What drew you to Independent Living Waterloo Region originally? And how has the organization changed since?
Janet joined Independent Living Waterloo Region in December of 2021. She commented on how she joined during the COVID-19 pandemic and had limited time in office to meet her new team before the Omicron wave hit. She had previously worked at Guelph Independent Living; this experience provided her the knowledge to excel in her current position. Redman’s 30 years of experience at Guelph Independent Living was very similar work and services that were applicable to her current organization. Her draw to move to Waterloo Region was an opportunity to expand her leadership and knowledge. ILWR had undergone some recent change as they moved from Ministry supervision to a new Executive Director and Board of Directors.
What do you like most about ILWR?
Janet commented on the diversity of programs and services that ILWR provides, with many different supports for persons with disabilities. But what Janet likes the most about ILWR, is the people they serve. The consumers have the determination to live independently and pursue their individual goals. She is inspired by what consumers accomplish with the tools the organization can provide.
Can you tell us what your role(s) is/are with the OHT?
Redman reflects on how the OHT has provided her with the opportunity to learn more about the region especially as she has recently moved to KW4 from Guelph. ILWR is a member of the OHT and has been able to leverage the partnership to meet other organizations within the OHT membership. The membership has helped expand knowledge of community support services and increased the voice of the community within conversations of the health system. Expanding awareness of support services that increase the health and wellness of people with disabilities and other populations like seniors who are aging in place, can benefit from the knowledge of ILWR.
How does your organization align with the values and goals of the OHT?
ILWR just redeveloped their organization’s vision, mission and guiding principles. She commented on the similarities between their mission and that of the OHT. The OHT’s vision is to support a community where everyone thrives and no one is left behind. ILWR’s vision is “an inclusive community where persons with disabilities are supported to live independently and thrive.” She found it interesting that both organizations' visions have an emphasis on “thrive” and to support all populations with an emphasis on what people need to be successful.
What do you hope to see in the near future with your continued partnership with the OHT?
Janet hopes to continue working with other providers to support ILWR’s current consumers and persons with disabilities that could benefit from ILWR services. Educating consumers and providers on services available within the community is important in connecting them with the best services available. Knowing what is available ensures people are getting the right support to assist them. She looks forward to building a network of community and health services with the region and continuing to collaborate on improving the health system within KW4.