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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 residences 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 was supporting 76 people in 15 locations within group living. In addition, 6 people were being supported through individual support arrangements originally known as the Choices project.


OPTIONS northwest opened the Tuscany home as a group living residence.


The addition of the apartment at the Nicholett’s home occurred to support an individual to allow for the closure of the Roberta Street home. Passport funding was rolled out as an early invitation to help individuals get out into the community. At that time, it was only a fiscal approval as not all the guidelines for Passport were in place.


OPTIONS northwest hosts it first Northern Ontario School of Medicine Students. This was also the time that the North Network of Specialized Care began to develop, and OPTIONS northwest was a partner agency to meet the needs of individuals with a Dual Diagnosis. A partnership with St. Joseph’s Care Group formed to provide this unique service. OPTIONS also received funding for the first time for children’s services under the behaviour mandate to be attached to the Community Resource Team.


OPTIONS northwest re-located its administration offices to 95 North Cumberland Street. Bill 77 was tabled in legislature to replace the Developmental Services Act with Services for Persons with Disability Act 2008.


This was a historic year in Ontario with the closure of the last 3 institutions; Huronia Regional, Rideau Regional and Southwest Region. After 130 years from the 1st institution being founded, all were closed in the province of Ontario. Bill 77 receives Royal Assent and becomes the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act 2008. This began the Transformation process for developmental services and a time of real change for OPTIONS northwest.


July 1; partner agency Lutheran Community Care Centre becomes the DSO (Developmental Services Office) All applications for services must go through the DSO process for eligibility and entrance into the system. OPTIONS hosts its first Christmas luncheon and started the Spirit of Christmas venture to help individuals supported by OPTIONS to have a little extra spirit at Christmas time.


The new legislation implements QAM; Quality Assurance measures to ensure the rights of individuals supported and their care is at the forefront. Emphasis on Behaviour Support Plans and implementation of PRN protocols are formally guided by the QAM process. July 2011 also saw the opening of the Redwood home.


Through the new legislation, OPTIONS needed to do a formal policy review of all policies to ensure compliance of QAM. Training for individuals and staff on respecting rights and preventing abuse is initiated.


OPTIONS northwest experienced the retirement of their Executive Director and the senior management team was asked to take on interim leadership while the Board carefully reviewed the organization and planned for the agency’s future. Strategic planning occurred and a new Vision, Mission, and Philosophy was developed to reflect Transformation


Continuing under the leadership of the senior management team, OPTIONS started to expand its services. Individuals supported by OPTIONS were receiving Passport services so internal processes were implemented to be able to assist them.


A new Executive Director is named, and OPTIONS celebrates is 50th Anniversary year. The Transformation agenda is in full implementation, the website is renewed, and the Palliative Care team is developed to address our aging population.


OPTIONS saw the closure of Tuscany home to address the needs of the community waiting list; individuals were seeking a menu of services different than group living. Community Participation Supports and Supported Independent Living came with the introduction of new transitional youth from the children’s system. Ombudsman’s report, “No Where to Return” is released with recommendations to address the issues facing the Developmental Services System.


OPTIONS expands to offer Home Share services to adults as well as an Intensive Support Model. New organizational structure implemented to streamline names of positions and address the expansion of services to recognize OPTIONS offers a menu of services. The outdated name of Personal Support Services transitions to “Community Services” which better reflects the support provided throughout the community and district for the clinical team.


OPTIONS offers a full range of services for residences support; group living, Community Participation Support, Supported Independent Living, and Home Share. We have grown over our 50+ years and continue to strive to help individuals “Live Life their way.”

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