Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your organization?
Will Pace is the Executive Director of Community Support Connections. The organization is dedicated to supporting older adults and adults with disabilities, serving approximately 5,000 individuals across Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, and North Dumfries. Community Support Connections' mission is to help their clients maintain their independence and dignity by enabling them to live in their own homes for as long as possible. The organization's commitment to serving a large number of people in the region and beyond is commendable.
What drew you to Community Support Connections originally? And how has Community?
Will Pace was initially drawn to the organization due to his personal experience with a family member who required intensive in-home care and support. Living in Toronto at the time, he was shocked by how challenging it was to find suitable services that addressed his family member’s needs. Upon discovering Community Support Connections, he was attracted to the opportunity to bring his personal experiences and challenges to the organization and the 5,000 clients they serve.
Since then, Community Support Connections has undergone significant changes and evolution. Community Support Connections offers a dozen services, which have been streamlined and clarified to make them more accessible and understandable for clients and the public. The organization has undergone a brand refresh and has been more specific about the services it offers, including nutrition, health, social well-being, and help-at-home programs. The organization has also been more proactive in marketing its programs and services to the community through partnerships and fundraising efforts, in response to the ongoing challenge of healthcare funding.
What do you like most about Community Support Connections?
Will Pace stated that the thing he likes most about the organization is the people they serve. He mentioned that the clients, who are a diverse group ranging from their 40s to over 100 years old, bring a lifetime of experiences and challenge the organization's assumptions. Will also shared that their clients are very clear and open about what they want and need, which is helpful in improving their services. He further highlighted the Client and Family Advisory Council, composed of clients and caregivers, that constantly provides feedback and suggestions on the organization's programs. Overall, Will emphasized that working with their clients is an extraordinary experience, and their opinions and perspectives are valued and appreciated.
Can you tell us what your role is with the OHT?
Will Pace shared that his role with the OHT involves working with two different Ontario Health Teams, as their catchment area covers Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, and North Dumfries. He feels privileged to sit at various steering and working groups. His staff are also very involved in working with different working groups and projects with both OHTs. He believes that they are well integrated at that level, and the OHTs themselves are great at giving a voice to all of their member agencies.
How does your organization align with the values and goals of the OHT?
Will Pace believes that their organization aligns with the values and goals of the OHT in several ways. Firstly, they prioritize providing the best care possible to all clients regardless of their economic condition or background, which aligns with the ethics and philosophy of the OHTs. Additionally, they have been driving forward since before the formation of the OHTs to be a leader in the area of virtual care and digital accessibility. Their organization recently started a tablet lending program to help older adults who are not tech-savvy to learn how to book doctor's appointments online or attend virtual exercise classes. They recognize the importance of digital health to the Ontario health teams and are striving to share their lessons with other organizations. Despite the challenge of teaching someone who has never used a tablet or a laptop before how to join a virtual exercise class, once they get the hang of it, they become completely engaged in the program. Overall, this demonstrates a strong dedication to advancing Ontario Health's vision for digital health.
What do you hope to see in the near future with your continued partnership with the OHT?
Will emphasized the importance of working in a more integrated way with all partners within the OHT. He highlighted the need for better coordination among healthcare and social service agencies, especially in terms of sharing backend information in real time to provide early intervention for potential crises. He expressed his enthusiasm for the opportunity to directly upload knowledge about clients and share it with other organizations, ultimately benefiting all clients.