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Community Head Injury Resource Services

Message from the Chair of the Board of Directors

January 2022


Message from the Chair of the Board of Directors: January 2022

Reflecting on the past year, the Board could not be prouder of the organization's excellent performance. CHIRS remains steadfast in its mission of improving the lives of those living with Acquired Brain Injuries, which continues to put the clients first and guides the direction of the organization. Advancements continue towards achieving the organization's strategic objectives:

  1. to be a centre of excellence,
  2. to develop strong partnerships with other organizations to better serve clients and increase service capacity, and
  3. to strengthen financial capacity.

In 2021, the management team, staff and the Board of Directors participated in an audit of the CHIRS organization by Accreditation Canada. Accreditation Canada's role is to review in detail all aspects of the operation against the Canadian Quality and Patient Safety Standards. The Board and staff are delighted that CHIRS continues to maintain Accreditation Canada's Exemplary Status rating. The ultimate compliment given by the senior surveyor was that she would not hesitate to place her family member in the care of CHIRS. Maintaining an Exemplary rating is a testimony to the resilience of all levels of staff and their ability to perform to a high standard in the shifting and challenging work environment created by the pandemic; it has been simply remarkable.

There continues to be strong leadership from the CHIRS Management team. A notable milestone is Executive Director Hedy Chandler's celebration of her 35th service anniversary with the organization - an extraordinary accomplishment. She has shepherded the organization from a small transitional group home into a multi-service agency that provides a broad range of supports to a clientele with diverse and complex needs. Another notable milestone was the retirement of Danny Caplan, former Director of Operations, after 33 years of service to CHIRS. Danny's contributions to CHIRS over the years have been fundamental to the growth and success of the organization.

Dr. Carolyn Lemsky and her clinical team remain a much sought-after resource. Expanding the reach of the clinical expertise to partner organizations is done on a fee-for-service basis. Over the past year both oversight and training to sister agencies has expanded. This includes work with another agency to provide housing to new clients. CHIRS is fortunate to have been able to hire an additional Neuropsychologist for the clinical team. CHIRS is the only community agency in Canada to have three Neuropsychologists on staff. This is quite noteworthy and means that the team is now reaching many more individuals. It has the capacity to provide services to people CHIRS otherwise would not have been able to help while simultaneously strengthening the CHIRS financial base.

In support of Adult Day Service (ADS) clients CHIRS created and has been delivering a range of programs on a virtual platform during the pandemic. ADS programs are now attended by people outside the typical CHIRS community - within Ontario and beyond. Reaching clients virtually, in their homes, brought to light a number of individuals who were experiencing food insecurity and lack of basic necessities. Through donations and volunteers a Food Hamper Program was established which distributes groceries free of charge to clients in need.

Over the past year and in furtherance of the objective to create meaningful partnerships, CHIRS worked diligently to secure grants from the Second Harvest Emergency Food Security Fund. These grants were used to purchase a new pantry fridge and two big freezers, which will contribute greatly towards being able to continue the several food programs, including the new Food Hamper Program. The big freezers will mean that CHIRS can accept even more donations from the many partner organizations.

The rooftop garden, largely funded by the Trillium Foundation, at head office has been completed. It will provide a calm oasis for clients, families and staff as well as give residents a space to cultivate their gardening skills and grow vegetables for meal preparation. CHIRS also received funding from Ontario Health - this to help upgrade the physical space, as well as purchase new laptops and related software for staff and clients so that programs can continue to be accessed remotely. On behalf of the Board, we would be remiss if outgoing Board Chair, Samantha Chapman is not appropriately acknowledged for her long and dedicated service to the CHIRS Board. Her thoughtful approach and patience will be missed. To end on a personal note, I feel fortunate to be taking on the role of Board Chair. Our family can attest that CHIRS is successful in improving the quality of life for persons living with the effects of Acquired Brain Injury. We are appreciative of the many years of wonderful care our brother has received and the peace of mind that comes with seeing him content.

Jenny McAdam
January 2022

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