Celebrating the value of every person
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