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Staff Access

Barb Westfield Directs her Own Supports

One of our five strategic goals for the next three years is increasing the number of people who are directing their own services.  We believe that every person has the right to direct his or her own life, with the assistance of their personal support network. There are many ways that people can become more involved in directing their own supports, including being involved in selecting supporters, managing their budget for supports, and identifying the priorities for their supports.

Mary and Barb
Mary and Barb

This past summer Barb Westfield had the opportunity to experience the power of directing her own supports when Shauna Carson, her supports facilitator, went on a vacation. Barb has always been a leader within Spectrum’s community when it comes to her independence and when it came time for Shauna to plan for Barb’s supports while she was away it seemed like the perfect time to try something new. Instead of finding another manager or facilitator to take over the running of Barb’s supports, Shauna, Barb, and one of Barb’s long-time supporters, Mary Katipunan, started to discuss the idea of Barb taking over. Barb was now, as she puts it, “The Boss”.

What made this experience so successful for Barb was the relationship she had with Mary. Mary has been a support in Barb’s life since 2009 and from the very beginning of their time together they saw each other as equals. Mary became Barb’s quiet sidekick and Barb became the big voiced boss. This is a role that Barb loves. She was really interested in the financial and organizational aspects of her support and she was always the first to make arrangements for staff that were off sick.

Since Shauna has returned from vacation, they have maintained some aspects of management for Barb. For instance she has stayed very involved in the day to day organisation of staff by holding staff meetings whenever she feels there is something that needs addressing. She also handles many of the daily tasks like calling Handydart. Barb loved her chance to take over managing her supports and thinks that as long as other people have a support network helping them, then they too can successfully direct their lives.

If you would like to know more about Barb’s experience and get advice from her on directing your own supports, you can email her at