Journey to Wellness: How Customized Employment Can Help

Laura is a 49-year-old woman who has had minimal work experience, is a survivor of violence, and struggles with depression and anxiety. Laura is under the care of a physician, designated with PWD and is very motivated to work and be a good role model for her two children.

Laura connected with employment services for the first time in 2012 on an on-and-off basis; during this time she received a wide variety of services including personal counselling, community connection support and a complete range of employment services that ultimately culminated with her referral to Customized Employment. In addition, in February of 2016, it was identified she would benefit from Essential Skills Training; therefore she participated in the CAMERA (Communications and Math for Employment Readiness Assessment) and it was recommended that she took part in the STRIVE program. This 4-week, semi-intensive workplace literacy program would help her to increase her literacy level, give her some structure to support re-gaining control of her life, and build her confidence as a learner and worker, especially as Laura had struggled with job maintenance in the past.

The STRIVE program proved to be a milestone for Laura who learned through the program to clearly identify her strengths. After the training, she became very motivated to work on her employment goal. Laura then went on to fully engage in placement services and an unpaid work experience was arranged for her in a kitchen setting as a Hospitality Associate. During this work experience, she continued to struggle with her lack of self-confidence, but with the support of her Employment Specialist during each shift, Laura managed to overcome her insecurities. The employer recognized her progress and offered her employment after the unpaid placement.

After 10 months, Laura continues to work 15 hours per week and is extremely happy. She attributes her success to her family which is very supportive. In addition, Laura has learned the supports that she needs to maintain her work and wellness such as continuous physician’s care for her depression, and VIVRS job retention support to handle unforeseen situations at work, for example, when the job becomes stressful because of increased shifts. In her own words, working with VIVRS “has been an incredible journey for me in achieving my goals personally by increasing my self-confidence, experiencing exceptional personal growth and finding an employer who is supportive.”

Laura is a client of Vancouver Island Vocational and Rehabilitation Services (VIVRS), GT Hiring Solutions’ service delivery partner on Vancouver Island for Persons with Disabilities. Laura’s story is one of a collection in honour of Disabilities Employment Month.

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