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After nearly 64 years in operation, Valley View Centre, an institution for persons experiencing intellectual disabilities near Moose Jaw SK, is finally closing its doors. The closure of the institution (one of the last of its kind in Canada) and the successful transition of all of its residents into the communities of their choice, has been a process seven years in the making.

Jack, former Valley View Centre resident, celebrates his new life in the community.

Following the announcement of the facility’s closure in 2012, Inclusion Saskatchewan was invited to work alongside the Ministry of Social Services as well as the Valley View Legacy Network (formerly the Valley View Centre Family Group) to assist in the transition of Valley View’s residents into the community. The collective, known as the Valley View Centre Transition Steering Committee, worked to first develop a strategy that would ensure that each individual would find success as well as the same levels of support (or higher) in the community. Following best practices learned from similar institution closures across Canada, the partners developed a list of recommendations that put the person (and their family) involved in the transition first.

This person-centred approach to transitioning residents, a methodology unique to Saskatchewan, is what allowed the project to ultimately succeed. Through this approach, each Valley View resident was empowered to make choices about where they wanted to live, how they wanted to live, and who they wanted to live with. Once these decisions were made by the individual and their families, Inclusion Saskatchewan staff would then collaborate with Ministry of Social Services staff as well as support agencies to make them a reality. Over the course of seven years, the team pieced together houses, support staff, and community opportunities for every one of the centre’s 153 residents that were transitioned.

“An incredible amount of work and careful planning went into every transition,” says Inclusion Saskatchewan Executive Director Kevin McTavish. “It took us seven years to accomplish because we wanted to do it the right way. We were very familiar with the challenges and barriers faced by other institution closures and worked diligently to avoid them. We put the person first, we listened, and spent the time needed to find the right location and the right supports so that no one would fall through the cracks or end up in a worse situation.”

The closure of Valley View Centre is one the largest and most significant achievements in Inclusion Saskatchewan’s 60+ year history. It also represents a monumental step forward for the Inclusion and de-institutionalization movements. It’s a success that will not only lay the blueprint for institution closures all over the world but also show others that a closure of this size and scope is very much possible.

“The Saskatchewan-made closure of Valley View Centre is a historic step forward for individuals with intellectual disabilities. We’ve showed that it is possible, that this kind of thing can be done, and that there is no reason why anyone should be living in an institution. It’s undeniable that there is a revolution developing in our province – a revolution towards inclusion,” says Gloria Mahussier, President of Inclusion Saskatchewan.

Watch our 2016 Inclusion Breakfast video featuring former Valley View Centre residents Jack, Eric, and David living in the community of their choice and loving every minute of it.

Written by Travis Neufeld -- Tuesday, September 24, 2019


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