Uni-Diversity bringing much-needed services to your home
Laurie Mitchell has spent the bulk of her career as a developmental services worker and special care counsellor in communal settings, first working in group homes and day programs geared towards adults with disabilities, later in school classrooms amongst those with autism.
“A lot of the therapies tend to happen in an office, building skills in one-on-one situations, or in schools, where there are all sorts of students,” said Mitchell. “Seeing all those different environments across all those years, I realized I was seeing many of the same issues coming back, a lot of struggles, not only with the families and individuals who have diagnoses, but also with the professionals working with them. Right now, within the system, there are a lot of waiting lists, paperwork, and a lack of human and material resources.”
Mitchell says while many individuals are being seen by professionals and receiving help, there does remain a gap between the services being provided and “what is actually having an impact in their day-to-day life.”
Laurie Mitchell is the main caregiver for her father, Brian Mitchell at home in February 2022. Photo: Jessy Brisson.
This prompted Mitchell to create Uni-Diversity in 2020, a needs-based support and education program. Working in conjunction with the therapies already being offered, Mitchell works at applying those principles into her client’s individual home environments.
“My services are special-education based as a special care counsellor,” said Mitchell. “Within that, there are many different directions you can take. It’s about helping people who are susceptible and requiring support by helping them adapt and modify in their everyday. I am not necessarily offering something new, it is what you already know but applying it differently.”
While initially designed to solely service the autistic community, the initiative has since evolved to include support for adults and seniors with neurocognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s or loss of autonomy, amongst other conditions and diagnoses. Mitchell says her own personal experiences, coupled with the needs of others, were behind the change.
“I have realized in the application of things that this process that works in the autistic community also works in other areas as well,” she said. “Part of that stems from my own personal journey. I have a father who has Alzheimer’s and I became a caregiver at the end of 2019. All of my own personal experiences are what pushed me to make that link between what I knew as a professional, but also how I can help as a caregiver.”
To further meet the needs of her clients, Mitchell has recently begun offering a companion service, whereby Mitchell will accompany a caregiver to doctor’s appointments or shopping trips. She says an extra set of eyes can oftentimes provide additional support to those feeling alone during public outings. In addition, a crisis support program has been instituted to help the autistic community.
“When you are struggling and there is nowhere else to turn, I will at least help alleviate the situation,” said Mitchell. “It is an immediate support in what you are struggling with right now while you await other alternatives to be in place.
Uni-Diversity is based out of Terrebonne and services much of the North Shore including: Mascouche, Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Repentigny, Bois-des-Filion, Rosemere, Boisbriand, Saint-Therese, Blainville and Laval. Online consultations are also available. For more information and to sign up for a free 30-minute inquiry call, please visit uni-diversity.com.