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CHIRS

Community Head Injury Resource Services

Message from the Chair of the Board of Directors

January 2023

 
 
 

Message from the Chair of the Board of Directors: January 2023


2023 was another productive year at CHIRS, as we continued to make positive strides against the organization's strategic objectives, overcoming unplanned challenges and proactively dealing with change at the provincial level. The working environment remains one of collaboration, open communication and striving for excellence. CHIRS staff have continued to demonstrate strong leadership and incredible work supporting clients.

CHIRS is seen as a centre of excellence and an active contributing member of the ABI community, a reflection of our Strategic Priorities. Thanks to several staff who have shared their expertise in the form of presentations. CHIRS Staff have presented at both the Toronto ABI Network Annual Conference and the March of Dimes Canada ABI Service Annual Conference in November. Another presentation was delivered at the Canadian Healthcare Navigation Conference in April. Dr. Carolyn Lemsky, the CHIRS Clinical Director, presented at the Collaborating Across Borders Conference in May. In March, the International Brian Injury Conference was held in Dublin, where Dr. Lemsky was a presenter in partnership with Dr. John Corrigan. Also attending the conference and representing CHIRS was CEO Hedy Chandler and Dr. Chanth Seyone, Consulting Neuropsychiatrist at CHIRS. All the presentation material was very well received. CHIRS also continues to expand its fee-for-service arm, steered by our three highly skilled Neuropsychologists.

We are proud to share details of the Reena Housing Project, which launched early in 2023. This partnership with Reena initially provided four clients with ABI support from CHIRS within Reena housing, the oversight funding being provided by the province. Since then, we are pleased that the program has expanded to five clients. This partnership highlights CHIRS' ability to collaborate in the community, providing ABI expertise and meeting the strategic objective to increase client capacity.

Last March CHIRS saw the return of full in-person Adult Day Programing - such welcome news! Prior to that, the ADS team continued to provide limited in-person programs and virtual programs. Virtual programs will continue, as it has proven to address the needs of clients who are, for whatever reasons, unable to attend in person. The agility in delivering both types of programs is to be applauded. CHIRS staff and Board were delighted, after a 3-year absence, to be able to host the CHIRS Family Picnic this past September. It was a terrific event and so great to once again meet and chat with clients, families, and staff in person.

There were changes initiated by the Province of Ontario to CHIRS funding and support model. We want to acknowledge that the CHIRS realignment to Ontario Health - Toronto requires building many new relationships and managing a new dynamic. Congratulations on management's proactive approach in offering to represent ABI on committees and by extending an invitation to the executive of the Ontario Health team and providing an orientation to the CHIRS organization.

CHIRS is a charitable organization and so donations are an important part of the organization's funding. We are very thankful for donations received from family and friends of CHIRS and from foundations. We received wonderful news in support of CHIRS clients - a $150,000 grant from the Trillium Foundation. The grant was awarded for the purchase of three new vehicles, which are being used to transport clients to appointments and a range of other activities.  It could not have come at better time as the existing vehicle fleet is showing wear.

It has been a busy year for the Board as well, with good progress on Board-sponsored initiatives. The Board sponsored an external risk review, which is essential in identifying opportunities for improvement and ensuring that CHIRS practices continue to evolve and remain best in class. The Board wants to acknowledge that, according to timely reporting from CHIRS CEO Hedy Chandler and from the risk audit, we became aware of both emerging and potential safety risks. Appreciating the vulnerability of ABI clients, we reiterate that the organization remains fully committed to ensuring that clients and staff are functioning in a safe environment. The risk report identified areas for improvement. The Board is pleased that, not only were the recommendations addressed, but in several instances, the solutions developed went above and beyond the recommendations.

The Ontario Not for Profit Corporate Act (ONCA) was recently introduced; it provides Ontario's not-for-profit corporations, including charitable corporations, with a modern legal framework to meet today's needs. This legislative change required the Board to review and amend its corporate by-laws and policies to be compliant with the legislation. This work was completed in December 2023, well ahead of the provincial deadline.

In an ongoing effort to have strong governance, Board policies are reviewed annually. This year the Board also introduced a new policy, which holds Board members to the same standards as CHIRS staff, requiring all members to complete a Vulnerable Persons Police Check.

There are a few changes taking place within the Board membership. This past fall Board member Kerri MacDonald retired from the Board after six years of service. She came to the Board via CHIRS' participation in the Doors Open Toronto Program. Kerri held the role of Recording Secretary and contributed to the Compensation Committee. Her previous experience as an Executive Director and experience working for the City of Toronto has been valuable, as has her thoughtful input to discussions. Thank you, Kerri.

The Board has always valued having family representation to provide that unique perspective. Unfortunately, Nina Corrado, who filled this role, had to resign earlier this summer. We miss both her perspective as well as her experience within the areas of cognitive and physical disability education. We are delighted that Jerry Shoot has joined the CHIRS Board, ensuring that there continues to be a family member's voice at the table. Jerry is retired from the Toronto District School Board, where he spent most of his working career.

To close this report, the Board acknowledges once again the stellar performance of the CHIRS staff. It takes a unique set of skills to assist ABI clients with their goals while promoting their physical and emotional well-being. The Board thanks staff for their patience, their companionship, and their kindness, particularly in those difficult moments that can occur. They are an amazing group of individuals, with a tremendous can-do attitude, and we commend them all on their excellent work and another productive year. It has been said before though bears repeating. A substantial number of staff have been with the CHIRS organization for many years; what, collectively, they have contributed to the building of the CHIRS organization and the exceptional reputation for ABI expertise and exceptional client support is truly remarkable. The Board is proud of their contributions and appreciates their dedication.

 


Jenny McAdam
Chair of the CHIRS Board of Directors
January 2024

 
     
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