Mission: Gateway Homes Inc. has been established by the relatives and friends of people with mental handicaps. Its purpose is to provide good stable homes in the community for these people, and to make supports available to them which will enable them to live full lives in the community.
To fulfill this mission, we think the following ideas are important:
We believe that the principle of normalization provides a framework for supporting our relatives and friends. By normalization we mean “the use of culturally valued means to offer persons life conditions at least as good as those of the average citizens, and to as much as possible enhance or support their behaviour, appearances, experiences, status and reputation.” (Wolfensberger) We recognize the ambitiousness of the goals implied by this principle, and that we are only beginning to address them. We believe that many of the ideas that follow flow from this principle.
We believe that our relatives and friends have the same human and legal rights as any other citizen. We are committed to respecting these rights in our operations, and to protecting and promoting them in the community, including the freedom to make choices, where possible.
We believe that the best way to support our relatives and friends is by starting from who they are as individuals, and planning accordingly, rather than trying to “fit” them into any particular service form.
We are committed to providing and/or finding supports for our relatives and friends as long as they require them; probably the rest of their lives. We are committed to them as individuals.
We need to remain open to the changing needs and wishes of our relatives and friends. If a supportive arrangement is no longer meeting the needs and wishes of an individual, we must be willing and able to make new arrangements for him/her.
We believe that the best way to support these people is in small, family-sized settings. We also believe that Gateway should remain small as an organization, so that we can all know the people we are supporting, and each other, reasonably well.
We support the December 1989 policy statement of the Canadian Association for Community Living on the use of aversive techniques. We believe that it is neither right, nor in the long run useful, to use such techniques. We believe that our relatives and friends can learn to behave positively through the use of respectful, positive, non-intrusive teaching and supports.
We recognize that many of our relatives and friends are personally isolated, as a result of spending years in institutions. We know that a rich network of personal relationships is a central good in all our lives. We want to help our relatives and friends to develop a wide range of relationships with people in the community, ranging from casual acquaintances and associates, to close friends.
We believe that active participation in the community is an essential part of a good life for our relatives and friends. We want to help them find opportunities to participate in a wide variety of community activities, including, but not limited to, work – paid and/or voluntary, organized and spontaneous recreation, cultural activities, worship, associational membership and participation, etc. We want each individual to develop his/her own unique set of these activities and we want to provide or find supports for them to make their participation possible and meaningful.
We believe that our relatives and friends will benefit most by participation in ordinary settings with ordinary community members, rather than in special settings for people with mental handicaps. Therefore, we are committed to supporting them in integrated settings and experiences, rather than segregated ones. We anticipate that individuals supported by Gateway will use segregated programs only if all avenues to integrated community involvement have been exhausted, or if an individual clearly chooses a segregated setting after having had the opportunity to experience an integrated alternative.
Our relatives and friends need opportunities and assistance to learn valued, relevant skills. We are committed to planning with and for them around this, and to providing and/or finding the necessary opportunities and resources.
We recognize that the achievement of most of our goals will depend a great deal upon the efforts of Gateway’s staff. We believe that our relatives and friends need staff who genuinely like and care about them as persons and who see their role as supporting them in living good lives. We want staff to be and feel valued, and we are committed to doing our best, within funding constraints, etc., to offer them fair salaries and working conditions and to working in partnership with them. We believe that it is crucial that staff recognize and share our commitment to Gateway’s mission.
We know that Gateway, like any organization, can and will make mistakes. We think that it is important that Gateway maintains an internal climate of self-criticism and self-evaluation, and continually looks for better ways to accomplish its goals. We also think we must remain open to, and encourage, external evaluation and criticism, and keep informed about new and different ways to support people with handicaps.