George Pearson Centre turns 60

From VPL Special Collections Historical Photographs: 1955 - Marpole Oakridge Community Centre.
Arrow points to George Pearson Centre, 3 years after opening.

It was 1952 when Pearson first opened its doors. This year 2012 marks the sixtieth anniversary of this residential care facility. So many people have walked these hallways over the years — and the world has changed a lot since then too.

One thing that has changed is the thinking of how to deliver health care services in a residential setting. Facilities around the world are on this journey, engaged in various stages of implementing ideas such as person-centered care, creating a human habitat, Eden Alternative philosophy, and holistic care. As well, there have been great leaps in understanding and diagnosing conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. Being taken seriously as a whole human being has long been a challenge for people who communicate in non-traditional ways and/or depend on a wheelchair for mobility. These days, ignorance still exists, but the knowledge is available for those open to learning about the person behind the disability.

In celebration of Pearson’s 60 year journey, several celebrations are planned. All week long an Archives museum will be available for viewing — put together by the GPC Recreation team and CARMA members. There are a lot of historical items that have been unearthed for this display, including the first keys for the grand opening in 1952. An Iron Lung will be on display, an early version of a breathing machine. As well, Pearson will host a party for staff and residents with a visit from Elvis. And on Thursday May 17, an Open House — past residents and staff have been invited to return to Pearson, explore old memories and reunite with some familiar faces.

As Pearson looks forward at future redevelopment, it is important to look back at where we have come from. It reminds us how far we’ve come and how far we have to go in this journey towards the best model for care delivery. Residents envision one that puts the person and their choices in the centre of all decisions regarding health services.