Fraser Health is creating a “mental health residential campus,” with three levels of supportive care, at the same Maple Ridge site.
Beckman House already provides 21 licenced care beds, and Fraser Health announced recently that it will be building a mental health assisted living residence to offer another 20 units there – separate, but on the same property in the 12000 block of 216th Street.
They will also open four new bridging units across the street, adding to four already there.
When the campus is complete, mental health patients will be able to graduate through three types of housing, gaining independence as they go, with a goal of ultimately being able to live in the community on their own.
Meryle McDowell, Fraser Health’s director of mental health and substance use service, said the facility will initially be populated by patients who mostly come from Maple Ridge, then more broadly from across Fraser Health.
The patients will have mental health as their primary diagnosis, and the range could include schizophrenia, anxiety disorder or severe depression, she explained.
The project is a partnership between Fraser Health and the provincial government through B.C. Housing, as well as the MPA Society, which currently runs Beckman House and similar facilities in eight Lower Mainland municipalities.
Dave McIntyre, executive director for MPA, said the location of four bridging units across from Beckman House the past two years has already proven to be an asset. It inspires those at Beckman House to focus on recovering their mental health.
“We saw a significant improvement in people in the licenced care facility. They could see hope down the road.”
He explained that Beckman House is similar to a nursing home in layout, with programming in common areas, and a strong sense of community. Residents receive support in getting medication, meals and social interaction.
The assisted living residence – the new piece of the puzzle – will see residents each have their own mini-apartment with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette, where they can prepare meals. There will also be common areas with programmed activities.
The eight bridging units are independent duplex units, for patients who are almost independent, but still benefit from nearby staff support.
“It [the campus model] allows people to be promoted to as much independence as possible,” he explained. “This is a tried and true model.”
McDowell said more campuses of this type may soon be developed in other Fraser Health communities.
“It’s a model we think is very promising,” she said. “It allows for choice. We don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution.”
The new assisted living facility will replace two existing housing program contracts – Trejan Lodge and Sheppard House in Maple Ridge.
The funding from those facilities will flow to Beckman House.
“Both Trejan Lodge and Sheppard House have provided quality care, but limitations with the existing physical structures are challenges for both facilities,” said a Fraser Health press release.
Residents of Trejan Lodge and Sheppard House will be given priority access to Beckman House.
The staff at Trejan and Sheppard, about 12 people, are employees of contracted organizations. They will be able to apply for job opportunities at Beckman House through the MPA Society, or other opportunities in Fraser Health.
Construction is expected to start in January 2015, and is being planned to give the least disruption possible to Beckman House residents, said Fraser Health.