To provide programs, services, and opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities to allow them to reach their fullest potential as a member of our community.
The Centre was started in the 1960’s as an activity program by parents of intellectually disabled individuals. It began in the basement of Trinity St. Stephen’s church. The Bridge Workshop progressed through different locations including the old St Charles Academy, the old St. Charles Convent, on Croft St and at our present location on Station St. In the early years the program consisted of about 10 clients, a manager and 2 instructors. At this time, one instructor was a wood working instructor.
In 1978/79 the Department of Community Services wanted to move the centre’s focus from activity based programs to work based programs. This allowed centres to generate the portion of the budget not covered by the department. (We are presently approximately 50% funded.) Around this time a large, lucrative contract was acquired from Northern Telecom, a communication plant in our local industrial park. It was difficult to store the wood materials so the wood working program was discontinued. There was a baking program which consisted of making sweet breads and selling them in local convenience stores. Eventually these were sold at the local Farmer’s Market. Sales in sweet breads declined once grocery stores in town had their own bakeries so this program was eventually discontinued. At this time the location of the Bridge Adult Service was in the basement of a building owned by a local service club. Eventually the CACL bought the building from the club and the program was moved upstairs. Over time, the amount of work received from Northern Telecom dropped off because plants became more mechanized and electronics changed. A new program, the laundry service, was started in the basement. This is now called, “Bridge Laundry.”
In 1991 an addition was added to the Centre to accommodate the Developmental or Pre-Vocational Program. This program was to provide a day program for more severely challenged individuals who could not function in the regular program. Life Skills training was and still is the main focus of this program.
In 2004 a Used Clothing Store was started in the B.A.S.C. This was located upstairs in the building on Croft St.
The Bridge Workshop had a fire and a new building was built. The grand opening for the new building was on October 28, 2008 at 16 Station St. in Amherst. This was two years to the date that the old workshop had a fire.
Board of Directors
The B.A.S.C. is operated by a Board of Directors. The Board consists of a cross section of people from the community. e.g. parents of clients, lawyers, law enforcement individuals, persons with accounting knowledge, business people, as well as retired individuals who may have more time to devote to the boards, etc. The Board is broken into committees: Finance, Personnel, Program, Building, Public Relations, Admissions & Discharge, and a Directions Council Representative. Board members are invited to help at fund raising activities such as the Luncheons. The full meetings are not usually held in July or August.
The Executive Director takes care of the day to day operation of the Bridge Adult Service Centre along with support from the Executive Director Assistant, Joanne Hopper, and the rest of the staff.
The Bridge Adult Service Centre provides a day program for individuals over the age of 21 who have a primary diagnosis of being intellectually challenged. They are referred to by parents, guardians, doctors, therapists, Dept. of Community Services, and by self-referral. They live at home, in residential services, or independent living situations. The B.A.S.C. serves Cumberland County but the majority of clients live within the town of Amherst. There is at least a 2 year waiting list for admissions. It is important the potential client's caregiver contact the Department of Community Services to have a Care Coordinator assigned to their case, if they have not already done this. This individual could help guide them through some of the process in organizing their attendance at the Bridge Adult Service Centre. They may also be able to identify other services that are available.
The number of staff at the Centre is based on a formula set by the Dept. of Community Services approximately 30 years ago. The Developmental Program has a 3:1 ratio, the vocation programming has an 8:1 ratio for instructors and 3:1 for director. The Workshop has 5.4 full time staff positions. This includes an Executive Director, Executive Director Assistant, and 4 instructors. There is also 5 part time staff. Funding for the 5.4 staff positions comes from the Depart. of Community Services. The department also provides some funding for the relief staff. Some of the part time staff's funding comes from the Dept. of Community Service in the form of grants. These grants were established for one on one service to particular clients.
Initially there were no particular skills requirement for staff but now Community Services has set a standard. Any one being hired must have or be willing to attain the 7 core competencies. The 7 core competencies are Non-Violent Crises Intervention, First Aid & CPR, Fire Safety, Medication Awareness, Health and Personal Care, Behavioral Supports, and Individual Program Planning. The Dept. of Community Services has set out guidelines for Centres Regarding such things as square footage per person, safety features, and staff training. The workshops within the province belong to an association called the Directions Council of Nova Scotia. This is a self-advocacy group which lobbies to government to improvements to workshops.