Just over seven months ago, St.Amant began adapting to the new reality of facing a pandemic in Manitoba. As new announcements and protocols happened every day, their staff rose to the challenge and pivoted to ensure the best service possible. The threat of the virus, the closing of schools and some programming, all sprung up within days and affected people supported and their families, volunteers, and staff.
This is the tenth year that St.Amant is being recognized as a top Manitoba employer, and its investments in people continue to pay off as the pandemic carries on. The culture of collaboration, hospitality, excellence, and respect that has been nurtured across the organization has allowed them to navigate the challenges hurled at them this year. With over 2000 people supported by St.Amant, staff stepped up to make sure their needs were still met with the new safety measures.
“One of the things that I’m especially proud of St.Amant for, is that staff value people’s health and safety. But we also want to make sure the people supported have fun. That they have meaningful connections with friends and family. And that isn’t easy, that takes a lot of hard work,” said John Leggat, president and chief executive officer.
St.Amant programs instituted new protocols and hundreds of non-direct care staff immediately started working from home, connecting with their teams over video conferencing. Reliable technology solutions are provided by St.Amant’s IT services team to employees across the province.
Today, 85 per cent of St.Amant’s work happens in Manitoba communities and in Winnipeg neighbourhoods; not inside the original buildings at 440 River Road in St. Vital. To support those across the province dealing with the challenges of the pandemic, staff in their clinical services team established a COVID-19 wellness line for the St.Amant community to call. Teams are encouraged to be more innovative during the pandemic.
“Staff were so creative, they really focused on the people we support, coming up with all kinds of unique and creative ways in keeping people busy,” said Shirley Labossière, chief operating officer and chief financial officer.
As a large, multi-faceted resource for Manitobans with developmental disabilities and autism, the organization now employs over 2000 staff. St.Amant was once known as a place where people with disabilities would spend most of their lives. Today, the 440 River Road location is a place where people come to receive short-term health and stabilization services, before they return to their homes.
The more than 700 staff in St.Amant’s community residential program not only provide basic daily life supports, they also enable and advocate for meaningful social inclusion opportunities, jobs, and friendships in approximately 80 homes.
St.Amant has four community-based early learning autism sites with an additional classroom expected to open soon. The pandemic has not stopped the organization working with children and families in nearly 50 First Nations communities across Manitoba through Jordan’s Principle. The various members of the team use their skills and passions and provide support through videos and mail.
The organization is also fortunate to have an occupational health services team to screen staff and answer questions they may have regarding the pandemic. They dispel myths that cause anxiety and offer reassurance while reminding everyone to practices the fundamentals.
A consistent pillar of St.Amant is a strong focus on personalized and ongoing professional development, with continuous opportunities for staff to enjoy long-term, rewarding career growth. The team that sustains St.Amant’s culture of learning now works from home and has used this time to expand the capacity of the online learning system that develops 2000 staff. Training at St.Amant covers a multitude of topics, from safety and health, to accessibility and human rights, to critical incident stress management.
Mindfulness is now a core competency for all staff, and St.Amant is operationalizing the practice across the organization, recognizing the scientifically-proven positive benefits. Training topics include mindfulness at work, mindful self-compassion, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and even silent retreats.
To explore St.Amant, check out their Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and browse all the exciting career opportunities at stamant.ca/jobs.