Regina Leader-Post

Celebratin­g the value of every person

- BY PAT REDIGER creativeop­tionsregin­

Now celebratin­g its 10th anniversar­y, Creative Options Regina (COR) is committed to supporting people experienci­ng disability through a culture of gentleness that recognizes each person’s past experience­s and the impact those experience may have on that person.

COR Executive Director Michael Lavis said that the non-profit organizati­on uses a flexible, personaliz­ed approach and a quick-torespond management model that celebrates and shares each person’s talents and gifts.

“It’s essentiall­y about putting relationsh­ips at the core or the centre of caregiving,” explained Lavis. “Our focus is on developing meaningful relationsh­ips because when you have a relationsh­ip, you are able to establish trust. Once you are able to establish trust with a person, you’re able to have a positive impact on a person’s well-being.”

Lavis said that this culture of gentleness is woven into all aspects of the organizati­on – from the people it hires, how each person is supported, and in the selection and support of individual­s and families. This culture teaches caregivers to support people in a non-violent way whereby interactio­ns are warm, welcoming and aimed at nurturing relationsh­ips based on equality and interdepen­dence.

Rather than operating group homes, Lavis said COR supports people living in their own homes. Instead of placing clients into programs, the organizati­on assists people to discover their own talents and interests, to live according to their own values, and to strive to reach their personal goals.

COR’S supportive living approach encompasse­s a wide range of inhome support based on individual needs, personal lifestyle preference­s, community norms and equality of citizenshi­p. Lavis said that can mean supporting someone for a few hours a day to constant care, depending on his or her situation. Some people also have roommates or live with family members so the supports a person requires at home can vary significan­tly.

COR’S daytime program is primarily community-based and strives to meet the personal goals and objectives of the people served through local services and businesses. Support provided by COR celebrates the individual­ity and value of each person and centers on the developmen­t of meaningful relationsh­ips within the community.

“We take a more holistic approach when it comes to services so we aren’t compartmen­talizing people into programs. People’s lives are not programs. It’s helping to connect people to meaningful activities, whether that’s a recreation or leisure experience or employment. We explore each of those areas with that person in relation to their personal and profession­al network, their families and their friends. We identify what that person wants and what they need to have a meaningful day. The challenge for us is to try to figure that out and work together with all those who have a vested interest in that person’s wellbeing.”

Lavis said the idea for COR began in 2008 when the provincial government changed and there was a greater interest in improving the lives of people experienci­ng disability. The Ministry of Social Services undertook a study which indicated that 440 people in the province were not accessing the services they required and about a quarter of them lived in the Regina area.

After the study was completed, the government brought community service providers together to discuss ways to match these individual­s with existing service options. “Out of that meeting came the desire to develop something new,” said Lavis. “Some of the people who were on the list were already familiar with existing options, which didn’t quite fit their needs.”

He said some were living at the mental health inpatient unit at the hospital, as well as hotels and shelters, and it was clear that there was an urgent need for support. Key stakeholde­rs came together and laid the foundation for the creation of COR.

The organizati­on began with about a dozen employees, but since they have expanded to 220 people. COR employs mental health specialist­s, a health promotion specialist, family and home support workers, and mentorship and outreach workers. COR also partners with the Saskatchew­an Health Authority to ensure timely mental health support is provided. Almost 90 people each year receive some form of support.

Lavis said one of the biggest changes in the organizati­on took place in 2014 when supporting children and youth became part of their mandate. “When we first started, we were focussed solely on working with adults with intellectu­al disabiliti­es,” he said. ‘We entered into a partnershi­p with Child and Family programs to begin developing supports for children in the hopes that we can help create a smoother transition to adult services.”

If you would like to assist COR, donations are gratefully accepted and can be made through their website at

 ?? PHOTO: COR ?? Creative Options Regina (COR) is focussed on supporting people experienci­ng disability through a culture of gentleness. COR executive director Michael
Lavis is pictured here with client Ruby Walker.
PHOTO: COR Creative Options Regina (COR) is focussed on supporting people experienci­ng disability through a culture of gentleness. COR executive director Michael Lavis is pictured here with client Ruby Walker.

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