Help wanted: new site links families with support workers

Many New Brunswickers — seniors, families of kids with mobility issues or intellectual disabilities, people who want to live more independently — know how hard it is to find qualified support workers.

"We were hearing it has been very, very difficult for families and individuals to get the proper supports that they need, despite having funding for them," said Erin Wilson, the project manager for the New Brunswick Association for Community Living.

"People would actually go without the support because it was so hard to find a support worker. Trying to find these folks could turn into a full-time job."

A new site, Support Match NB, is aiming to reduce that workload.

The free database, made possible with funding from the Greater Saint John Community Foundation and the Windsor Foundation, is a place where families looking for respite care can post ads, and qualified home support workers can post resumés.

"There's a great need in the Saint John area right now for support workers," said Wilson. "There are many families, seniors, and folks who have disabilities or young children with autism who need respite care, but no centralized way to match them up with workers."

Resumés wanted

People eligible to use the site include those with "a human services diploma, child and youth care workers, occupational therapists, and educational assistants who are looking for summer employment," Wilson said, adding that Support Match NB is also in talks with recent NBCC and nursing graduates and others who are finishing up their coursework.

"This is a perfect site for them to find individuals and families who are looking to hire them," Wilson said.

Once families connect with qualified candidates, a comprehensive guide on the site outlines how to conduct interviews, checks references and ensure the worker has completed a current criminal record check.

Easier access to respite care

The goal, Wilson said, has been to create a process that's user-friendly and simple to use.

"There aren't pages of registration to fill out: it's as simple as putting in your name and location and your e-mail address," she said. "Then you can access the site quickly and start posting ads and resumés."

Support Match NB is developing a similar guide for support workers, Wilson said. "We've tried to give enough resources that families and support workers can do their due diligence."

The site has already launched in the Saint John region, and there are plans to expand it across the province, Wilson said.

"It's a good time to post your resumé and hopefully get connected with people who need to find someone."