A new space for the mentally challenged
The Island's mentally challenged have all the space they need under the Government's adult new day programme, according to the official in charge of the Orange Valley Centre.
Ten years ago, the centre was temporarily placed in its own wing of the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI), which the families of some clients felt was too cramped.
The facility opened its doors for The Royal Gazette to show the results of this month's reshuffle, which has left Orange Valley with a more select population of clients in need of daytime care.
Said John Payne, head of the National Office for Seniors and the Physically Challenged: “For some people, there is still a stigma associated with where it is — a stigma associated with being linked with MWI, even though Orange Valley is a completely separate facility from MWI. It's just because of the location.”
He added: “People need to understand that you never know when somebody is going to have a child with this type of disability, who will have to have what services we can provide in Bermuda.
“It may not be ideal. But compared to what's available in some other countries, it's great. It's what we have, and we're doing the best we can — which, when you look at it, really isn't bad at all.”
Government is still committed to rehousing the Orange Valley Centre, which caters to older clients with more serious disabilities.
The plan remains to integrate the centre with other facilities catering to the disabled at Roberts Avenue, Devonshire.
Mr Payne defended the new work experience programme put in place for higher-functioning clients — which, starting October 1, has seen many relocated from Orange Valley Centre to the Opportunity Workshop, opening up much-need space for the adult day programme.
“We've divided the higher functioning people into three groups,” Mr Payne explained. “One can be trained to go out into the job market; one can be trained to work in a sheltered environment, and another just to cope with day to day living — how to cook, catch the bus, make change and get dressed.”
An administrator from the Opportunity Workshop is currently making the rounds of local businesses to find the right fit.
Some are working already at Butterfield and Vallis, Mr Payne said, while other clients have found tasks at the Department of Parks — and others who remain at the workshop have been putting leaflets in envelopes for the National Drug Commission.
“They also work cutting up foam for Gibbons and Company to stuff pillows with,” Mr Payne added.
“One thing that happened in the past with this was that certain people at a company would be better at providing a supportive environment to work with. Then that person would go somewhere else, and other staff members might not be so supportive.
“One thing we'll be doing when we find appropriate employers is the client will be properly assessed and we'll have someone go into the workplace with them. Once they have a routine set, we'll be able to leave them alone, and if issues arise we can go back in and resolve them.”