“A co-operative approach to social care: a conversation that matters” was hosted on April 18 by the board of Sunshine Coast Community Services Society.
Eighty local community leaders and service providers gathered to offer valuable input about pressing social issues and innovative approaches to address them.
This event was made possible by contributions from the Sunshine Coast Credit Union, the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation and the board of Voice of BC, a provincial organization of boards of community social service organizations.
In seeking input for the society’s next five year strategic plan, the Community Services board engaged the community in a conversation about finding ways to deliver social care services in a more co-operative and effective way.
John Restakis, executive director of the BC Co-operative Association, was the keynote speaker, presenting his thought-provoking “Co-ops and social care: a new future for community agencies.” Jennifer Charlesworth, executive director of the Federation of Community Social Services of B.C., also guided the day.
The Seaside Centre was full to capacity with participants from local government, School District No. 46 trustees and representatives from provincial government ministries, non-profit agencies and churches involved in social care services.
The purpose of the day was to provide an opportunity for the community to look at social services differently — a day to ask questions and have conversations about the changing needs of our communities and to imagine how new approaches can enrich the quality of care and the quality of life of our communities.
The keynote presentation kicked off the day with information on what’s changing in the social care paradigm, the emerging role of the social economy and ways in which agencies and communities must rethink their role.
The highest priority social care needs were identified: poverty and hunger relief, affordable housing, seniors care, demographic profile, more integrated co-ordination of social care services, mental health services, navigating the social system, transportation and community engagement. Participants were challenged to identify possibilities for positive action in each area and to sign up for follow-up action groups.
The conversation is carrying on with lots of ideas incubating. For example, a group to address community-based seniors care is planning a meeting, and another group is meeting to address how to better integrate and deliver services more co-operatively.