The Story of NorWest Co-op Community Health
Once upon a time there were a couple of botanists teaching at the University of Manitoba. They had lived in housing co-operative in Sweden and wanted to arrange for one here. They tried to purchase some land near the University of Manitoba to build such a structure, but were unsuccessful.
Co-operative housing is a total way of living. There is group ownership of the entire project and all members have an equal voice.
The idea of co-operative housing continued and the Co-operative Housing Association of Manitoba Inc. (CHAM) was formed on January 1, 1960. Their objective was to build and promote co-operative housing projects. They began negotiations with the City of Winnipeg. Only one alderman was in favour of the co-op plan, all the others voted against it.
After seven years Willow Park Housing Development was born. It was Canada’s first major co-operative housing venture.
The co-operative movement in Manitoba had, for many years, been interested in the health care system. Under a grant from the Dept. of Health and Social Development, CHAM did a study of the availability and accessibility of health services in the North Winnipeg Area.
The study in 1972 called “Health through Co-operation” said:
“The mainstay of our philosophy has been a desire to provide the best possible health care to the community at the most realistic cost.
AT THE NOR’WEST CENTRE PREVENTIVE CARE WILL BE A FACT, NOT A CONCEPT; THE PHYSICIAN WILL BECOME A MEMBER OF A HEALTH CARE TEAM, NOT THE LEADER; THE PATIENT WILL BECOME AN INDIVIDUAL, NOT AN ILLNESS; AND HEALTH CARE WILL INVOLVE THE DENTIST, THE NURSE, THE NUTRITIONIST, THE SOCIAL WORKER, THE PHARMACIST, THE COMMUNITY WORKER AND THE COMMUNITY WORKING TOGETHER, NOT IN ISOLATION FROM EACH OTHER.
However, the simple bringing together under one roof of a wide range of varying health services personnel does not mean that a totally integrated and co-ordinated system of health services delivery will somehow magically evolve…Teamwork is the key.”
Lastly, the study said:
“A system of social development services must take cognizance of these facts:
- that the needs of one individual may differ radically from those of another, in terms of the strength of the support required; and
- that the needs of any individual may change.
In our terms, a system which does so provides ‘progressive care’, that is, care which changes in emphasis or supportive strength with the changes in the needs of the individual.”
And Nor’West was born!