Christian faith-based organization offers care for people with disabilities
By Laureen F. Guenther
Bridge to Care, an international Christian faith-based organization with corporate offices in Spruce Grove, Alberta, has been providing services for Albertans with mental, physical and developmental disabilities since 2017.
Most of Bridge to Care’s services are in the areas of hiring, respite, placement and transportation. But in every area of service, Bridge to Care focuses on providing services that fit the client’s and family’s needs and preferences.
“(Services) could range from anything from respite, companion care, all the way to following a care plan from a therapist … and we do that on a case by case model,” says Amanda Nsofor, Program Assistant for the Respite Program.
“If you do a one-size-fits-all, it doesn’t really work for everyone, because everyone’s needs are so diverse.”
Hiring is important because most Bridge to Care clients have provincial funding for certain types of services but need someone to provide those services.
Bridge to Care, which currently has about 15 administrative staff and 70-80 front-line staff, Nsofor says, will hire staff to fit the client and the family, even if the client is outside Bridge to Care’s main geographic area, ensuring a good fit between clients and staff, providing staff training and supervision.
Respite care, primarily of children, is another key area of service. A respite worker goes into a client’s home, for a few hours or as long as 24 hours, to provide care for the child while the parents or other family members get rest.
Placement is similar to respite care, but placement provides a home-away-from-home for a child who has severe needs. Bridge to Care has several staffed placement homes, each of which is home to one child.
Accessible transportation is Bridge to Care’s fourth main area of service, and that too is focused where it’s most needed. The organization emphasizes transportation service in Parkland County, but not in Edmonton, because other agencies provide accessible transport service within the city. Within those four main areas, Nsofor says, Bridge to Care offers other types of service: personal care, companion care, FASD support, autism support, palliative care and pregnancy care.
Praise Abraham, Bridge to Care’s Founder and CEO, is “really focused on providing as much care as he can for anyone who needs it, so going beyond what we can do,” Nsofor says.
“That’s why we try to work with everyone, case by case. If we can provide some services to you, and give you the help that you need, we’ll provide the services.”
Nsofor says Bridge to Care is one of a few agencies that provide services for Level One clients, meaning they need a lighter level of care. “Because there’s not a lot of funding for that,” she says, “a lot of agencies aren’t taking Level One clients.” The Canadian office hopes to soon also have its own fully-developed programs for the homeless too.
“Our hope is that by 2020,” Nsofor says, “we’ll be a full-fledged social service organization that can provide services reaching into homelessness and addictions.”
Some people who contact Bridge to Care don’t have government funding, or need additional help in areas their funding doesn’t address. So Bridge to Care has a growing pool of volunteers who can help in situations like helping someone move and housecleaning for someone with a visual impairment.
“I want people to know that (Bridge to Care is) here for the community,” Nsofor says, “even if you feel like you don’t fit our criteria. … If you feel like you don’t have funding or you don’t have an agreement, or you don’t have the things that we usually require, we are usually able to work with you or lead you in the direction you need to go.”
www.bridgetocare.org or 780-591-1000.