Talia Showers’ Story with an Inclusive Employer

We are delighted to work with our Community of Accessible Employers member Canuck Place to spotlight Talia Showers’ story about working with an inclusive employer.

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About the ‘Spotlight on Disability in the Workplace’ Series:

Accessible Employers created a series of short films promoting accessible employment opportunities in British Columbia. Restating the case for inclusive employment, the video series is an awareness campaign about accessibility and inclusion in the workplace.

We are profiling people with disability living and working in BC who love what they do!

The aim is to promote the benefits of accessible and inclusive workplaces as well as services available to improve and encourage inclusive hiring across BC. The films hope to celebrate diversity, break barriers and stereotypes and inspire others to pursue careers they’re passionate about.

Transcript For This Video:

[NARRATOR] A view of Canuck Place, a twin-turreted historic mansion with a curved driveway. The garden features mature trees and shrubs. Words appear: Presented by Presidents Group. CEO of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, Denise Praill.

[DENISE] Canuck Place Children’s Hospice is the provider of pediatric palliative care for the province of B.C. and Yukon. We have two provincial hospices. And we also provide care in communities to children and families all across the province.

We provide pain and symptom management, planned care, respite stays. We also have recreation therapy, music therapy, play and art therapy. And we have a very robust counselling and bereavement program to support families.

[NARRATOR] Scenes of everyday life at Canuck Place: Caregivers comfort a child in a wheelchair, and read a book to a child in bed. A counsellor meets with a couple. Immunization Nurse, Talia Showers.

[TALIA] The special thing about Canuck Place and you know, the thing that makes me want to come here every day is we’re very much like a great big family. I always feel supported to do my best work.

[NARRATOR] A child in a wheelchair hugs a caregiver. Manager of People and Culture, Stephanie Fowler.

[STEPHANIE] Talia has excellent communication skills, fantastic empathy, and patient care,

[DENISE] Nursing is a complex job and parts of it can be physically demanding. Nurses often have to move patients, walk long distances, and perform many physical tasks as part of their daily responsibilities. At Canuck Place we’ve decided to challenge this assumption.

[NARRATOR] Scenes of nurses smiling as they provide care to children in beds and in wheelchairs. At a nursing station, they study charts and collaborate.

[DENISE] It really takes a special person to choose pediatrics as their specialty. And then to specialize in palliative care really is a rare skill set. So when we find gems like Talia, we want to make sure they stay with Canuck Place for a long time.

[TALIA] I loved the work. I loved working with the families. I loved working with my colleagues. It was really just a fantastic job. And then a couple of years ago, I unfortunately became too sick to do my job and I had to take some time off. And that was just a huge shock to the system. It took a long time. I did a lot of a lot of grieving, right?

Because, I mean, when it first happened, I thought, well, maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to get back to work. But what I was hearing from my doctor was, well, you can’t be a nurse anymore.

And that was really scary for me because I had 20 years of experience and knowledge and, you know, just like praxis behind me that I didn’t want to waste.

[NARRATOR] A nurse smiles and talks with a child, keeping them calm as they perform a procedure.

[DENISE] We like to think about accessibility more as about flexibility. And when we think about someone like Talia, when the circumstances changed, we really had to think about how could we extend the flexibility that we have established in our values as an organization to support Talia and retain that talent.

[NARRATOR] Talia wears headphones as she works at a computer.

[TALIA] Canuck Place has been extremely accommodating of my disability. I know many many nurses who have left nursing or moved to other job sites because their disability was not accommodated.

I haven’t really disclosed to you what my disability is, but as you can see, it’s an invisible one. And people who have invisible disabilities often have difficulty being accommodated because people can’t see what’s going on with your body.

[STEPHANIE] I think job carving is important. And how we were able to do it was to speak to Talia to really understand what support she might need in the moment or in the future.

We were then able to create a psychologically safe work environment where Talia had the trust to come to us and explain what she needs in the moment. It’s about making sure employees feel comfortable to come talk to managers.

[NARRATOR] Talia and Stephanie stand on a staircase, chatting.

[TALIA] They just ask. They just say, “Hey, what do you need?” You know, “How can we help you?”

[STEPHANIE] We’ve been able to move away from set shifts so Talia has been able to work part-time, this allows her to control her working hours.

[TALIA] I still have a nursing license, I still do nursing jobs and I still use my nursing judgment. But I know that I won’t be a bedside nurse again and I’ve started to come to terms with that. What they’ve effectively done is they’ve said, “Okay, well you know this work translates well to the skill that Talia has, and so maybe we can put her on that project.”

And so I’m doing a lot of project work that supports my colleagues. It basically allows them to take care of the children better.

[NARRATOR] Scenes of Talia working at her desk.

[STEPHANIE] Coming from a place of compassion and empathy for employees, we want to break down the barriers of invisible and visible disabilities within the workplace, so that everyone has an equal opportunity.

[TALIA] When an employee hears, “Hey, do you know what? That’s okay, we can work with that.” You’re much more liable to stay and work with that employer, right?

[DENISE] We really worked with Talia to understand her abilities. We’ve invested in her training, and we’ve supported her with physical and ergonomic supports, and with flexible working options so she doesn’t have to be on-site.

She’s really filled a gap in terms of protecting our staff, ensuring that we’re compliant with immunization vaccination programs. And she brings us an awful lot of skill about how to prevent future infections.

[NARRATOR] A nurse checks supply inventory in a tote bag.

[TALIA] I’m a 20-year nurse who would not have been able to work and you would have needed to replace me with a nurse who had probably less experience. Nurses like myself have a very valuable role in instructing new nurse, because you can’t substitute for experience.

[NARRATOR] Talia and Stephanie walk around outside the building. A statue of an orca, painted with a Vancouver Canucks jersey design.

[DENISE] We are in a tough labour market across Canada, particularly in health care, and being an accessible employer is one way that Canuck Place can stand out as an employer of choice.

[NARRATOR] In the garden, a child in a wheelchair smiles, surrounded by their family.

[TALIA] If you retained those employees, you would have a much stronger, healthier organization.

[DENISE] We all had to work differently, during the pandemic. Let’s use some of that new thinking, freeing ourselves from a physical location and being flexible so that we can encourage a variety of people to join our workforces.

[NARRATOR] A view of Denise on a video call. A family heads up the walkway to the front door of Canuck Place. Inside, children smile as they enjoy a snack with their family. Logos appear: Presidents Group, Government of Canada and Government of British Columbia. Funding provided by the Government of Canada through the Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement.