K & K Quality Care Ltd., 45 Goodwill Ave., Charlottetown, June 2017
K & K Quality Care Ltd. is a community access program for people with an intellectual disability. Kathy Ward Doucette is the Owner and Operator, and her son Matthew Youland also works in the business.
“We have been a family-run business since opening in 2002,” says Kathy. “Our person-centered program is designed to assist individuals in acquiring the life skills necessary for personal growth, enhancing their family environment and community life.
“We offer programs in a broad range of areas such as social skills, discipline skills, work/school skills, and everyday academics like comprehension, problem solving, communication, self-worth and self-esteem. Through experiential learning in groups or one-on-one activities, we help the clients to adapt old and new skills, learn new behaviours when dealing with situations and to accept responsibility for actions taken.”
K&K Quality Care helps to fill the social and community inclusion service gaps on PEI. Included in the daily schedule are a nutritious lunch and activities such as swimming, bowling, and many other options. Programs are offered in such skills as cooking, laundry, and banking, as well as personal daily living activities such as hygiene.
“Professional and knowledgeable staff are here to assist individuals and offer needed supports to ensure a holistic program.
“We work hard to help clients to develop skills such as involvement, taking ownership, self-determination, and daily functional skills. Services are customized to the needs to the individual. We assist individuals to develop their interests and talents as well as community access and involvement.”
Presently, 15 to 17 clients attend the program daily. Respite care is also offered to existing clients.
Kathy says they limit intake to 20 people because they want to maintain a close connection with clients and their families. “We work hard to give people opportunities to be in the community forming relationships and living an active life. This is the heart of what K&K Quality Care is about.”
Kathy also works with families that need help navigating other services and programs that could benefit their child. “For example, I have helped direct and support the family as their grown child moves out of their parents’ home into an apartment and looks for work in the community.
“Our program provides a family-oriented environment with broad support which serves the needs of parents and their son or daughter. We work in partnership with the families to keep the line of communication open.”
About the staff
The five staff work full-time, which offers the clientele consistency and familiar faces.
Staff are all graduates from the Holland College Human Services program or the Child and Youth Worker program.
Kathy started her career by taking a Resident Care Worker program. She worked in nursing homes and in the food and beverage industry. She was at a crossroads in her career, so she went back to school.
In 2002, she graduated from the Human Services program, and opened the business in December of the same year. “I considered working within the school system as an Educational Assistant but opening my own business seemed to be a better option for me.”
From the age of 18, Kathy’s son Matthew Youland has been exposed to his mom’s profession. “After graduating from the Child and Youth Worker program at Holland College, I went to university, and then moved out west for a few years.” Kathy’s other two children were involved in the business at a young age, but Matthew is the one who was interested in pursuing it as a career.
Matthew also played in two hockey leagues over the course of his career. He also took a Correction Officer program in British Columbia and worked in a prison for a few years.
“I thought it would be nice to come back to PEI. I knew my mom could use the help, and I certainly knew the work and felt I could contribute.” He has a five-year-old daughter and also is an instructor at Moksha Yoga in Charlottetown. “It is a busy life on PEI and at 33 years old, it’s a labour of love. The shoe fits for me on PEI, being here with family and having good work opportunities.
“Here at the center we are really busy, and I think clients feel fortunate to have a community like this to be part of. I went to high school with many of the clients who are now at the centre.
“It is so important for our clients to enjoy each other’s company, do various activities together, get out into the community by attending and taking part in events, plan and prepare meals here, or just have some down time on a hot summer day.”
Hiring needs and challenges
They hire at least two additional positions in the summer, and look for the same background in the summer staff as their full-time staff.
“Finding that right person to hire is always a challenge,” says Kathy. “It has to be a person who is willing to go beyond the call of duty and has lots of initiative. Clients and parents need to be comfortable with staff. It is a collective process to make sure the new staff person is a good fit. The client pays us for our services, so we have to provide what is needed to meet everyone’s expectations.
“When considering this field, it is important to get as much exposure and experience as possible, because the work requires a level of maturity that takes time to achieve,” says Kathy. “You can’t really get a feel this type of work unless you get the day-to-day experiences and you are ready for the training and work commitment.”
Looking at the future needs for these services
Kathy spoke of the pros and challenges of running a business. “Payment for services comes directly from clients, who receive funding through the provincial Disability Support program.
“Client fees have stayed the same, but the cost of operating a business always goes up. It is a challenge to strike that balance of offering the best service possible while making sure the business financials are in good shape.
“Clients’ budgets are very limited, so we can’t increase our costs, and we want to make sure we have the right number of clients so that we can provide a good staff-client ratio.
“The number of people requiring our services is increasing, but access to funding is getting more restricted. There is a lot of strain on the field right now because we are all trying to provide as much as we can to address all the issues that arise. There is no overarching body to help us collaborate, share resources, and work together so that clients can seamlessly move from one service and program to another as their needs change and as they develop.”
Kathy says there is a growing number of people in the school system who will need these services when their school years are complete. “Educational assistants in the school system tell us that many students in the younger grades will most likely need to attend community programs after high school.
“When I first opened the business, I thought it was important to map out the services needed in the community to support all the development stages of people who need specialized supports. Because core funding is not provided by the province, there are many gaps in the services and programs the system offers. We should be able to work better together to make sure the client is getting the very best.
“Because of lack of awareness of what is available and how it can best work for families, there can be confusion and limits to the growth of the client when the right services are not provided.
“Services and programs must meet their children’s needs as well as the needs of the family schedule. For instance, an individual may want to work a few days a week and be in our day program a few days a week. There is no one service to help parents make all of these plans and map it all out. If the parents are working shift work, there is no service in the community that accommodates shift work.
“Funds are given directly to families to access the services their child needs, and parents need to be very aware of exactly what their child requires and of all the options in the community.”
Once a year, a Community Access and Inclusion Expo is held which brings all of the community resources together in one place at the same time. Kathy suggests parents should attend to get a feel for what is available.
For a list of all the organizations which attend this expo, visit www.employmentjourney.com/accessible-inclusion-services-pei/.
“When parents approach government for funding, they need to be very clear as to the exact needs of their child. It is hard to make decisions if you don’t have all the information. Parents really need to be aware and shop around and look at what fits their child and the family. To work this all out, it is best to start early in the students’ development cycle.
“Programs and services are here to make the parents’ lives easier and help their child live a fulfilling life in their community.”
Kathy says she really enjoys what she does for a living and the way things have worked out. “I hope someday that Matthew will be able to take over the business. I have been in the profession long enough to see the stages and phases that the profession has gone through, what is working, and what needs attention.”
For more information, contact Kathy Ward Doucette at 902-367-5496. Visit www.kkqc.ca.