Tackling the transition
Former Valley View tenants, families embracing community living
Families can breathe a sigh of relief knowing their relatives are taken care of.
A panel-led discussion was held at the Temple Gardens Hotel and Spa Thursday, addressing the current progress of the Valley View Centre closure.
At this time there are reportedly 99 people still residing at Valley View, while 59 have moved out to community-based homes.
“The transition process is one where we have had to both talk and listen along the way. The basic premise is that it is very individualized,” said June Avivi, co-chair of the Valley View Legacy Network.
“Every person who moves from Valley View to the community, whether it be Moose Jaw or elsewhere, has a program designed to specifically meet that person’s needs.”
Challenges remain, however, in areas of consent and access to services. Tenants aren’t free to choose their preferred doctor or even hairdresser. They are also unable to consent to surgery or major medical needs.
Avivi has a son who moved from Valley View to Saskatoon about a month ago. In speaking with the families, she said they shared the same sentiments of fear and concerns about their loved ones going into towns and cities. They have however, started to welcome the adjustment like she has.
“People have come to recognize that change, although it’s been very difficult for people to accept, is indeed a positive experience,” said Avivi. “Our family members have moved into, by and large, situations where there are fewer of them in a residence.”
She said former clients live in establishments of three or four tenants, compared to living with larger groups of 20 to 25. They receive better access now dealing with one-on-one caseworkers.
Former tenants of Valley View have been gleeful in their newfound freedom; they go to sleep when they want to, make their own lunch, shop for groceries, and even drink a glass of wine with friends. However ordinary these activities are, residents weren’t able to complete them at the centre.
Jane Whitson is one of those residents.
“I like it there because I can go wherever I want,” she said. “I like Moose Jaw better.”
Another former resident is Serena Bernges. She lived in Moose Jaw, but has moved to Regina recently.
“I go grocery shopping, I go on trips. I do all sorts of things,” she said.
Jordan Varey, director of Saskatchewan Services for Christian Horizons, reflected on a time when he attended Whitson’s birthday at a fine dining establishment. Surrounded by members of Valley View Centre and her friends, residents treated it like any other birthday, joining in the festivities and then going about their day.
“One of the unique things about the experience that stood out was when we sang happy birthday, the other people in the bar sang happy birthday too, just like you would in any situation,” said Varey.
Avivi shared the same thoughts, saying, the people that are moving into the community are being accepted as citizens of Moose Jaw.
Varey said the adjustments are not about criticizing the past but working together as they move into the future.
Mark LeBere, director of outreach and prevention services for the Ministry of Social Services acknowledged the work staff has done moving residents, as he also worked at Valley View for many years. In light of the positive transitions, he said the experience was bittersweet.
“People are getting to share, see and experience what we had for the last (many) years we worked at the centre. Getting to meet our wonderful people, citizens of Saskatchewan, sharing their lives and being part of their lives,” he said.
Former Valley View Centre resident, Serena Bernges, right, discusses her new life in Regina with Michele Fitzpatrick, community inclusion consultant with the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living.