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Journey is never complete when it comes to developmental services

in Columnists/Social Service Organizations by

Developmental Services in Ontario is a dynamic sector that is constantly striving to learn its way into a better state of inclusive communities and responsive services.

Like so many things it is a history of rethinks and trials that have led to something better and better. At the turn of the century, institutions were new and seen as progressive, but society slowly learned that this was a disastrous way to meet people’s needs.

Teresa Jordan, executive director, Community Living Trent Highlands.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, parent groups started to form to demand better options outside of institutions and inclusion in the regular school system. These parent groups that often went on to form brand new Associations for Community Living, made great gains, getting education in regular schools, funding for supports within community and workshops.

For the past two decades agencies are learning more and more about how to better support adults and families in community. Looking at more diverse options, more person-centred planning and more independent living options within community. Learning as we go from the people taking the risks, we evolve, to always try something new.

Community Living Trent Highlands is striving to offer new and different and individualized supports in all the communities it serves. Our motto is to strive to “ask, listen, listen deeply, and then respond.”

A key factor in the work we do is to try to understand the unique dreams, goals and preferences of those we serve and build a network that supports them. It may be that a person could never live completely without support, but they should always make decisions about how they live and are supported.

Often we have great stories that keep us as an agency working and striving to do better. People getting competitive employment in their community, people moving to an apartment of their own as desired, making new friends, connecting more with old friends, learning a new hobby, joining a group, or just realizing through experience that they have an interest in something new that has turned into a dream.

It is true that a column 15 years from now will again describe an evolution from where we are with supports today and will refer to the practices of right now as a stepping stone to something better.

Isn’t that just the way things work, as we all learn our way through to something better in this journey through community and life?

Community Living Trent Highlands supports adults and families living with a developmental disability or barrier to live, work, play and learn in the communities of Haliburton, Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes.

1 Comment

  1. It sounds as though your agency’s approach is innovative and growth oriented. So many times we see organizations that remain “path dependent” in a society that is constantly changing. I am curious as to how this more risk-taking, listening and responding approach is managed within a “culture” that often calls for austerity measures and a focus on profits, not people? The whole-community approach has the potential for real community integration.

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