South­west Homes opens ninth group home in Swift Cur­rent

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A house­warm­ing party was hosted on May 12 to of­fi­cially open the ninth lo­ca­tion op­er­ated by South­west Homes.

Mil­burn House was of­fi­cially opened this past Fri­day as a new res­i­den­tial lo­ca­tion for a trio of for­mer res­i­dents of Moose Jaw’s Val­ley View Cen­tre. The new home also boasts Swift Cur­rent’s first semi­in­de­pen­dent apart­ment as a new of­fer­ing from South­west Homes.

South­west Homes Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Susie Ei­dem re­flected on the growth of their ser­vices for in­di­vid­u­als with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties over the past num­ber of years. Back in 2007 they op­er­ated with just two group homes, serv­ing nine res­i­dents and run­ning a small in­de­pen­dent liv­ing pro­gram. To­day, they op­er­ate a net­work of nine group homes which sup­port 33 peo­ple as well as pro­vid­ing respite sup­port. There are also 24 peo­ple in a com­mu­nity-based day pro­gram which did not ex­ist a decade ago.

“We have grown a lot over the last few years. And there was a real need for that. Peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties are much bet­ter off than they were 10 years ago,” Ei­dem said.

Mil­burn House of­fers a home en­vi­ron­ment for Ed­ward, Clin­ton and Daryl, three in­di­vid­u­als who had been long term res­i­dents of Val­ley View Cen­tre. To date, a to­tal of 50 res­i­dents have tran­si­tioned out of the in­sti­tu­tional set­ting of Val­ley View and into a home-like en­vi­ron­ments pri­mar­ily across Saskatchewan.

“They are just lov­ing liv­ing in their own space,” Ei­dem ad­mit­ted.

Premier Brad Wall, who was on hand for the of­fi­cial open­ing, said the move away from in­sti­tu­tional care has been an im­por­tant process in im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life for those with dis­abil­i­ties.

“Over the last num­ber of years its be­come ap­par­ent that while the care there (Val­ley View Cen­tre) is re­ally good, that maybe a more home-like en­vi­ron­ment is de­sired. That was a big fa­cil­ity with a lot of res­i­dents. And so its taken some time to tran­si­tion away to more of a home-set­ting,” Wall said.

Wall noted that sup­port for South­west Homes in Swift Cur­rent has grown from a $900,000 an­nual bud­get in 2007 to $4 mil­lion this year to sup­port in­di­vid­u­als with dis­abil­i­ties.

“This bud­get was ob­vi­ously a very dif­fi­cult bud­get for the prov­ince. And there were some tough de­ci­sions we made. But I would note that ac­tu­ally in that tough bud­get con­text, this is the largest So­cial Ser­vices bud­get in the his­tory of Saskatchewan. Where other Min­istries were deal­ing with ze­ros, and some­times mi­nus ones or just plus ones, they got a nine per cent in­crease.”

Thanks to the more than $456,000 in an­nual fund­ing for Mil­burn House, South­west Homes has also been able to of­fer their first ever semi-in­de­pen­dent apart­ment.

South­west Homes pri­mar­ily of­fers care in group home set­tings with 24-hour staff sup­ports, while oth­ers live in­de­pen­dently ex­cept for pe­ri­odic sup­port.

“What we were look­ing for was kind of a mid­dle road for that. So we have cre­ated a semi-in­de­pen­dent apart­ment,” Ei­dem said.

Kory is the first par­tic­i­pant in this new of­fer­ing, and he has his own sit­ting room, bed­room and bath­room lo­cated in the base­ment of Mil­burn House. He has his own door and can come and go from his apart­ment, he can eat meals with the other res­i­dents, he has so­cial con­tact, plus he can ac­cess as­sis­tance with med­i­ca­tion if needed.

It is part of Mil­burn House “but feels very much like he’s in his own apart­ment, which was al­ways one of his dreams. So we were re­ally happy that we could help him with that,” Ei­dem said.

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