The Past: A Brief History
OPTIONS began as the Developmental Services department of the Hogarth-Westmount Hospital in Thunder Bay. Originally, there were 53 children and adults with concurrent medical and developmental disabilities admitted to the department.
With the passage of the Developmental Services Act, we became a Schedule II Facility under the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS), with governance still provided by the Hospital’s Board of Directors.
MCSS committed to the goal of providing services for persons with developmental disabilities in Ontario within community settings in the document “Challenges and Opportunities”. The Developmental Services Department and the Board of Hogarth-Westmount Hospital agreed it would be advantageous to split off from the hospital and actively pursue the direction set by the Ministry.
On July 1, 1991, the department achieved separate incorporation and became the Centre for the Developmentally Challenged (CDC).
By October of 1996, we had closed the Facility operation at Hogarth-Westmount Hospital. All persons receiving residential support from the CDC were living in 12 homes in the community. In addition, we had accepted responsibility for the operation of four other homes; three transferred from George Jeffrey Children’s Centre and one from Independent Living Residences for the Deaf-blind. This brought our total to 16 homes supporting 80 individuals throughout Thunder Bay.
In order to respond to the concerns of many individuals we support and their families we changed our name from the Centre for the Developmentally Challenged to OPTIONS northwest Personal Support Services in the fall of 1997.
A reduction in the number of people being supported through our traditional Group Living program allowed us to close one of our homes. Funding from this closure was reallocated to support additional people in non-traditional ways.
OPTIONS northwest supports a total of 78 persons in 15 locations within its Group Living program. 250 persons, their families or caregivers receive supports through the Community Resource Team.
OPTIONS wants to be a viable organization for the future and to do so, we have to be able to offer a menu of services to individuals; not just our traditional group living model. While this model serves some individuals well, younger individuals coming to our agency now want to have more independence in their lives. While we don’t know exactly what this will look like for our organization, the need for different types of services is in demand. We are excited to explore other living arrangements while still being able to provide group home environments for those who request this type of service.