After decades of serving people with developmental/intellectual disabilities in a long-term, institutional care setting St.Amant announces their designation as a developmental centre has officially changed within Manitoba legislation to be in line with their current practice.
St.Amant was designated as a developmental centre under the “Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act” in 1993 by the Province of Manitoba. For the past 20 years, St.Amant has been working with government to recognize that institutional care is not appropriate for people with intellectual disabilities and advocating that people with disabilities should be supported in the community. In the past few years, St.Amant’s facility at 440 River Road changed their admission and discharge policies to reflect the human rights of people with disabilities and to accept only short-term admissions for respite, stabilization, health or end of life care. Since that time, St.Amant has been working with government to change the legislation and remove the official designation from the legislation.
“The Manitoba government applauds St.Amant’s decision to shift their service delivery model away from institutional care for persons with developmental disabilities and towards a range of interventions that will help to stabilize and support individuals requiring short-term assistance.
We value our partnership with St.Amant and look forward to continuing working closely with the agency to support and improve the quality of lives of individuals with disabilities as they transition into inclusive, community-based residential placements,” said the Honourable Rochelle Squires, Minister of the Department of Families.
Today, St.Amant is proud to announce that the designation has officially been removed and the organization is no longer operating or designated as a long-term care facility for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities.
“People with disabilities have the right to live in the least restrictive environment as possible. We are very pleased that the legislation has caught up with our current practice and that we are seeing an end to institutionalization in Manitoba,” said John Leggat, President & CEO for St.Amant.
At its peak service, St.Amant supported roughly 220 people with intellectual/developmental disabilities in long-term care at 440 River Road. Currently, the service located at that site has been renamed from River Road Place to Health & Transition Services and supports approximately 93 people. Although there is still work to do to ensure an additional 60 people who have been living there long-term move to community, all of St.Amant’s admissions since are now short-term.
“The pandemic shone a light on everything we knew was problematic in long-term care and when we look at the quality of life and inclusion for people we support in community homes versus a large congregate setting, the difference is huge,” said Leggat. “There’s no comparison, when there’s an outbreak the building needs to be locked down, and people are stuck in their rooms, compared to a home that operates more closely to a family home. There’s an ability to participate in community and live life with a more natural and normal rhythm.”
Jessica Kowalson advocated and moved from 440 River Road in 2016 because she wanted to have a more normal life.
“I was visiting a friend who had moved into the community and thought to myself ‘This is amazing!’ so I spoke to my social worker the next day to get the ball rolling,” said Jessica.
Jessica is one of 58 people who received long-term services and 59 who received short-term services at St.Amant’s facility on River Road and have successfully moved to community (since 2013).
“Our priority is to support people to find the right community option and we are actively working with government to make that happen as soon as possible,” said Leggat.
St.Amant has a plan to support the final 60 people to move to community within the next four years opening up space for short-term specialized services. St.Amant will continue to consult with the disability community and its funding partners to ensure that their expertise is being used in the best possible way in service to people with disabilities.