Respite home eyes expansion

News Aug 14, 2009 Ancaster News

Judy Opar was running out of options.

Her seven-year-old autistic son, Nicholas, a playful, talkative youngster, suffers from recurring seizures. He needs constant care.

And while she’s happy to provide the attention Nicholas needs, the stress of caring for him and her two other children soon became overwhelming.

When Nicholas turned four, Ms. Opar knew she needed help. She turned to a support agency. A worker said if she couldn’t care for her son, she should turn him over to the Children’s Aid Society.

“I was absolutely stunned,” said Ms. Opar, an Oakville resident.

An ongoing search for respite care led Ms. Opar to the Gregory School for Exceptional Learning in Ancaster.

In response to a growing need for respite care, the private school for special needs students launched St. Nicholas House. The home is named for the patron saint of children.

Round-the-clock care Located at a residence in the Meadowbrook Drive area, St. Nicholas House offers round-the-clock respite care.

Today Nicholas is the home’s only client, but Gregory School principal Angeline Sarabura said the new respite home could potentially support four or five special needs children.

Ms. Sarabura said the respite home provides one-on-one care and attention, while teaching important life skills.

For parents who feel stretched to their limits, respite care is often the best alternative.

“It’s like dealing with a two-year-old at age seven,” Ms. Sarabura said. “Some parents are always dealing with that.”

Nicholas spends three or four nights a week at St. Nicholas House. Ms. Opar said the time off has helped her spend more time with her other two children.

“Both of the kids said ‘we miss Nicholas, but we’re glad to have you,’” said Ms. Opar.

For Ms. Opar, respite care provides not only a much needed break, but peace of mind in knowing that Nicholas is receiving 24-hour care from trained professionals.

To help St. Nicholas House expand, the Gregory School holds a comedy cabaret evening, called A Little Light Music. The event will be held Aug. 29 at the Old Firehall Arts Centre, 334 Wilson St. E.

Currently located at 91 Carrington Court, just steps away from the Ancaster Town Plaza, Ms. Sarabura envisions a pastoral setting for the future of the Gregory School. She would like to find a farm property that could include both a school and a respite home. But for now her goal is to raise the needed funds to hire more staff at St. Nicholas House. With a steady need for one-on-one interaction, the home would require three or four staff members to accommodate five students.

Today Ms. Opar is coping thanks to the help of St. Nicholas House. After searching unsuccessfully for 24-hour respite care in her community, she now commutes to Ancaster.

“It’s very hard to find a break,” said Ms. Opar. “There’s lots of families in this situation.”

Ms. Opar said fees for the respite program are about half of what she would pay for a similar program in Oakville. But 24-hour care was unavailable in her community.

Financial barriers are still a concern for Ms. Opar, who receives about $2,400 a year from the province’s Special Services at Home program. With increased community support for the Gregory Foundation, Ms. Opar hopes other families can overcome the financial barriers to access quality respite care in their community.

Respite home eyes expansion

News Aug 14, 2009 Ancaster News

Judy Opar was running out of options.

Her seven-year-old autistic son, Nicholas, a playful, talkative youngster, suffers from recurring seizures. He needs constant care.

And while she’s happy to provide the attention Nicholas needs, the stress of caring for him and her two other children soon became overwhelming.

When Nicholas turned four, Ms. Opar knew she needed help. She turned to a support agency. A worker said if she couldn’t care for her son, she should turn him over to the Children’s Aid Society.

“I was absolutely stunned,” said Ms. Opar, an Oakville resident.

An ongoing search for respite care led Ms. Opar to the Gregory School for Exceptional Learning in Ancaster.

In response to a growing need for respite care, the private school for special needs students launched St. Nicholas House. The home is named for the patron saint of children.

Round-the-clock care Located at a residence in the Meadowbrook Drive area, St. Nicholas House offers round-the-clock respite care.

Today Nicholas is the home’s only client, but Gregory School principal Angeline Sarabura said the new respite home could potentially support four or five special needs children.

Ms. Sarabura said the respite home provides one-on-one care and attention, while teaching important life skills.

For parents who feel stretched to their limits, respite care is often the best alternative.

“It’s like dealing with a two-year-old at age seven,” Ms. Sarabura said. “Some parents are always dealing with that.”

Nicholas spends three or four nights a week at St. Nicholas House. Ms. Opar said the time off has helped her spend more time with her other two children.

“Both of the kids said ‘we miss Nicholas, but we’re glad to have you,’” said Ms. Opar.

For Ms. Opar, respite care provides not only a much needed break, but peace of mind in knowing that Nicholas is receiving 24-hour care from trained professionals.

To help St. Nicholas House expand, the Gregory School holds a comedy cabaret evening, called A Little Light Music. The event will be held Aug. 29 at the Old Firehall Arts Centre, 334 Wilson St. E.

Currently located at 91 Carrington Court, just steps away from the Ancaster Town Plaza, Ms. Sarabura envisions a pastoral setting for the future of the Gregory School. She would like to find a farm property that could include both a school and a respite home. But for now her goal is to raise the needed funds to hire more staff at St. Nicholas House. With a steady need for one-on-one interaction, the home would require three or four staff members to accommodate five students.

Today Ms. Opar is coping thanks to the help of St. Nicholas House. After searching unsuccessfully for 24-hour respite care in her community, she now commutes to Ancaster.

“It’s very hard to find a break,” said Ms. Opar. “There’s lots of families in this situation.”

Ms. Opar said fees for the respite program are about half of what she would pay for a similar program in Oakville. But 24-hour care was unavailable in her community.

Financial barriers are still a concern for Ms. Opar, who receives about $2,400 a year from the province’s Special Services at Home program. With increased community support for the Gregory Foundation, Ms. Opar hopes other families can overcome the financial barriers to access quality respite care in their community.

Respite home eyes expansion

News Aug 14, 2009 Ancaster News

Judy Opar was running out of options.

Her seven-year-old autistic son, Nicholas, a playful, talkative youngster, suffers from recurring seizures. He needs constant care.

And while she’s happy to provide the attention Nicholas needs, the stress of caring for him and her two other children soon became overwhelming.

When Nicholas turned four, Ms. Opar knew she needed help. She turned to a support agency. A worker said if she couldn’t care for her son, she should turn him over to the Children’s Aid Society.

“I was absolutely stunned,” said Ms. Opar, an Oakville resident.

An ongoing search for respite care led Ms. Opar to the Gregory School for Exceptional Learning in Ancaster.

In response to a growing need for respite care, the private school for special needs students launched St. Nicholas House. The home is named for the patron saint of children.

Round-the-clock care Located at a residence in the Meadowbrook Drive area, St. Nicholas House offers round-the-clock respite care.

Today Nicholas is the home’s only client, but Gregory School principal Angeline Sarabura said the new respite home could potentially support four or five special needs children.

Ms. Sarabura said the respite home provides one-on-one care and attention, while teaching important life skills.

For parents who feel stretched to their limits, respite care is often the best alternative.

“It’s like dealing with a two-year-old at age seven,” Ms. Sarabura said. “Some parents are always dealing with that.”

Nicholas spends three or four nights a week at St. Nicholas House. Ms. Opar said the time off has helped her spend more time with her other two children.

“Both of the kids said ‘we miss Nicholas, but we’re glad to have you,’” said Ms. Opar.

For Ms. Opar, respite care provides not only a much needed break, but peace of mind in knowing that Nicholas is receiving 24-hour care from trained professionals.

To help St. Nicholas House expand, the Gregory School holds a comedy cabaret evening, called A Little Light Music. The event will be held Aug. 29 at the Old Firehall Arts Centre, 334 Wilson St. E.

Currently located at 91 Carrington Court, just steps away from the Ancaster Town Plaza, Ms. Sarabura envisions a pastoral setting for the future of the Gregory School. She would like to find a farm property that could include both a school and a respite home. But for now her goal is to raise the needed funds to hire more staff at St. Nicholas House. With a steady need for one-on-one interaction, the home would require three or four staff members to accommodate five students.

Today Ms. Opar is coping thanks to the help of St. Nicholas House. After searching unsuccessfully for 24-hour respite care in her community, she now commutes to Ancaster.

“It’s very hard to find a break,” said Ms. Opar. “There’s lots of families in this situation.”

Ms. Opar said fees for the respite program are about half of what she would pay for a similar program in Oakville. But 24-hour care was unavailable in her community.

Financial barriers are still a concern for Ms. Opar, who receives about $2,400 a year from the province’s Special Services at Home program. With increased community support for the Gregory Foundation, Ms. Opar hopes other families can overcome the financial barriers to access quality respite care in their community.