HealthPRO Canada News

May 18, 2023

Ongwanada creates spirit of community for people with developmental disabilities

Ongwanada has been living up to its name for people living with developmental disabilities in the Kingston area for decades.

The not-for-profit service provider takes its name from the Mohawk word ‘ongwanada,’ which translates to ‘our community’ in English.

Since 1967, Ongwanada has been creating a spirit of community for hundreds of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families in eastern Ontario. 

“Our name is perfectly in line with who we are and what we do – we provide a home and a community for the people we support,” said Courtney Murphy, Communications and Fundraising Coordinator. “Our approach makes a huge difference because it’s very integrated within the community. It allows these individuals to feel part of the community and to accomplish anything they want to.” 

Ongwanada’s roots in the community stretch back 75 years to 1948, when it opened its doors as a sanitorium for patients living with tuberculosis. Nearly two decades later, as demand decreased with improved medical treatments, Ongwanada shifted gears to support young people living with severe developmental disabilities. It continues to serve the same role today, with a particular focus on supporting individuals with complex needs. 

Ongwanada delivers programs and services at three main sites in Kingston, more than two dozen supported group living settings, and other homes, including the Southeastern Regional Transitional Treatment home and a home specifically designed for those with complex needs. Typically, Ongwanada provides support to approximately 500 clients, aged 18 and older. With an emphasis on holistic care, Ongwanada extends this support to the families of their clients. 

“We put a huge emphasis on family as part of the journey and also empower the individuals we support,” Murphy said. “We involve them and their family in making decisions that directly affect them.” 

Ongwanada’s team of support workers takes great pride in creating a sense of home and family in the supportive living settings it operates in Kingston, Napanee, Gananoque and surrounding areas. 

“When you walk into these homes it’s awe-inspiring,” Murphy said. “The staff really work with the individuals to customize their rooms to meet their unique wants and needs, but also ensure the home is a welcome, beautiful, loving setting where everyone feels comfortable.” 

Ongwanada says it has realized many benefits from its membership in HealthPRO since 1997. HealthPRO provides access to many products and services used in the day-to-day operation of Ongwanada, including products for hygiene and infection prevention and control, medications and administrative functions, such as photocopying services and supplies. 

“Our relationship with HealthPRO helps keep our staff and the individuals we support safe,” said Murphy. “And, the competitive pricing through HealthPRO means we can direct more of our budget directly where it’s needed – to frontline care.”