New housing model to address gap in supporting those with complex needs.

Those familiar with Ongwanada’s strategic plan, Vision 2020, will know that the organization has adopted a focus of supporting people with developmental disabilities who have complex needs. In keeping with this focus, Ongwanada has opened a new home on Haig Road which utilizes an innovative model aimed at improving the organization’s ability to support multiple individuals with complex needs in the same environment.

The home’s concept addresses a gap in the current service system which is that there are limited resources available in the Southeast Region to provide short-term treatment and stabilization for people with complex needs. The impact of this gap has been that people with developmental disabilities/dual diagnosis are being inappropriately placed in a hospital setting where resources are intended for acute illness versus specialized treatment and stabilization.

Although Ongwanada has operated the Southeast Regional Treatment Home for several years, it was recognized that the home’s layout was not always conducive to supporting several people with multiple complex needs in the same environment.

Ongwanada’s management team recognized there was a group of people in need of a residential space that would promote individualized needs and safety while their behavioural and mental health needs were addressed. In response to it outlined a plan to be the organization to provide this support. Therefore, in the summer of 2017, Karen Menzies, Chief Clinical and Planning Officer, along with Ronna Dillon, Manager, Clinical Services, travelled to Southwestern Ontario to see homes operated by Community Living Essex County (CL Essex County). CL Essex County had housing models already in place that successfully support people with complex needs through the concept of individualized suites. The utilization of individual suites allows for people with various needs to be supported in a safe but highly individualized environment. Menzies and Dillon returned with a plan that was shortly thereafter accepted and supported by Ongwanada’s Board of Governors.

Ongwanada acquired the Christian Horizons’ home on Haig Road as it was deemed the best location and option for space to create the model needed. Since acquiring it earlier this year, Ongwanada has renovated it into a three-suite home that can safely support people with complex needs in our region.

The home is now ready for occupancy and Ongwanada will begin to place people in the home in the near future once all staff are in place.

Any questions regarding our new home on Haig Road can be directed to Karen Menzies at or 613.548.4417.


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