Tack­ling the tran­si­tion

For­mer Valley View ten­ants, fam­i­lies em­brac­ing com­mu­nity liv­ing

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - FRONT PAGE - JOSHUA SAN­TOS

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.

JOSHUA SAN­TOS/TIMES-HERALD

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.

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