Yukon organization hopes to attract more users to Whitehorse respite house

A Yukon organization says it wants more people to use its Whitehorse respite house for people with intellectual disabilities.

"It's designed to help families take a break from their really busy lives, living with someone with an intellectual disability," said Shonagh McCrindle, executive director of Inclusion Yukon.

"Sort of like Airbnb."

For example, a parent with a grown child who has Down syndrome can leave their child there while they undergo an out-of-territory medical operation — "or whatever the break might be."

The traditional respite model involves support staff going to family's homes, McCrindle added.

The three-bedroom house that the organization rents is located in the city's Hillcrest neighbourhood. It can be used by adults with intellectual disabilities, along with their caregivers.

Steve Silva/CBC


Inclusion Yukon provides several services, including supports for people with needs relating to intellectual disabilities.

On Sunday, the organization held an open house for people to see the home in person.

McCrindle said she's not aware of a respite house of this nature being offered in the territory before.

The organization can assign support staff or visitors can bring their own.

Families don't have to pay to use the house, but they do have to pay for the services of the support worker, which can be covered through a territorial funding, among other sources, McCrindle said.

The house opened for public use in October 2018. Funding for the house comes from the territorial government.

Steve Silva/CBC

About 20 clients have used the home so far, and their stays have ranged from one night to several weeks.

The house has stairs to the main floors, and there's no elevator of any sort, so it's not accessible for everyone.

Most of the furniture was donated, according to Francis van Kessel, respite co-ordinator for the organization.

The house has a kitchen, laundry room, rec room, and a fenced-in backyard. There's also a living room with family-friendly movies and board games.

"Sometimes, we also get a little crazy and play the Wii," van Kessel said while guiding a tour Thursday.