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New supports available for people in Maple Ridge with substance-use, mental health challenges

Announcement made at the Assertive Community Treatment Office on Monday, Dec. 12
From left: Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare; Chelsea Robinson, Manager, Clinical Operations, MHSU FraserHealth; Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith; City of Maple Ridge Mayor Dan Ruimy; and Laura Caron, Director, Clinical Operations, MHSU, Fraser Health – were on hand for an announcement about new complex-care services for those living with mental health and/or substance-use challenges. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

New complex-care services are coming to those in Maple Ridge who are in urgent need of care.

Eight spaces will be available which will have wrap-around supports for those 19-years and older who are facing overlapping, mental health and substance-use challenges, also trauma or brain injuries – who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness and their current needs are not being met by exising housing options.

The service will be delivered locally by Fraser Health with local service providers, which will see complex-care housing teams help residents who are in existing supportive housing, or market rentals who require the supports to maintain their health and keep their homes.

People will be able to connect with services while in their own homes, in order to achieve stability and accomplish their goals.

Services include: psychiatry and mental-health supports; primary care services, including nurses; overdose prevention and education; occupational therapy; and Indigenous support workers.

Chelsea Robinson, manager of clinical operations, for mental health and substance-use with Fraser Health, explained their Assertive Community Treatment, ACT, teams will be expanding their services, to support people who are most in need in the community. ACT teams support people who have not responded well to traditional mental health programs and services. She said they will be adding an occupational therapist, extra psychiatry sessions, and more support workers.

Blake Bilmer, senior public affairs officer with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, noted health authorities are currently developing assessment processes that will be used to support care planning. He also noted that the services will have culturally safe and relevant supports for First Nations, and Inuit people.

Referrals into the program will come from acute care sites, mental health and substance use programs, through Fraser Health’s partners in the community.

“Self and/or family referrals are also accepted. The health authority team in Maple Ridge will review referrals and prioritize based on need,” said Bilmer.

Service providers in the program will have plans in place for their clients to prevent evictions or to rapidly rehouse people if their current housing is not a “great fit”, elaborated Bilmer. “This will help break the cycle of homelessness many people with complex needs face.”

The services will help people who have been left behind by the system, said Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare.

“It’s going to help provide support and keep stable those people who most need it,” she said.

“Whether you need to temporarily leave your housing to access treatment, to enter detox, or any other supports, the ability to actually stay housed and know you have a safe space to come back to is huge. So those people who have been left behind usually ending up homeless because they are bouncing in and out of systems, are now going to have the ability to know that they are able to return to their safe spaces while they get the care that they need,” she said, adding that it isn’t a time limit support – it is available to people who need it, as long as they need it.

Laura Caron, director of clinical operations with Fraser Health, noted that wraparound health and housing supports can make a difference for individuals who haven’t benefited from previously offered service types.

“We’re grateful for the additional resources so our team can help remove barriers to stable housing and health care for people with mental-health and substance-use challenges in Maple Ridge,” she said.

RELATED: More supports for inmates released from Maple Ridge women’s prison

Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission, explained that it is important to note that the service follows a person where they go and is not limited to where they are at that moment. It is important for continuity of care, he said.

The complex-care housing team in Maple Ridge is currently operating at a reduced capacity until all positions are filled, and will take on more clients as the team grows. Services are expected to be available by the end of January 2023.

The province is investing $164 million over the next three years into complex care housing that will help as many as 500 people across British Columbia.

Complex-care housing was launched in January 2022 with services in Abbotsford, Bella Coola, Fraser East, Kamloops, Kelowna, Langley, Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, Powell River, the Northern Health region, Sunshine Coast, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria.

ALSO: New app to help youth access mental health and substance use supports

Since the launch, the province has announced services for 388 complex-care clients in communities throughout B.C..

“Every person in British Columbia deserves a home – somewhere they can feel safe and live with dignity” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

“Complex-care housing services in Maple Ridge will connect people with the supports they need to access care, maintain or find new housing and help clients break out of the cycle of homelessness.”

Maple Ridge Mayor Dan Ruimy said the eight spaces that are coming available are just one piece of the puzzle for helping those with substance-use or mental health issues.

“When we talk about homelessness and drugs and addiction, it’s not just one giant umbrella, we have to take it piece by piece,” he said.

“It’s just one piece of the puzzle, there’s lots more to do, but it’s a step in the right direction,” added Ruimy.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

Colleen Flanagan is an award-winning multimedia journalist with more than 15 years experience in the industry.
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