Cel­e­brat­ing the value of ev­ery per­son

Regina Leader-Post - - SPORTS - BY PAT REDIGER cre­ativeop­tion­sregina.ca.

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.

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