Recovery beds added for female patients

NANAIMO – Island Health invests $12.3 million into mental health and addictions.

New support is on the way for women fighting addiction in central Vancouver Island.

Six supportive recovery beds will be created in the Nanaimo area for women this year, as part of a  $12.3-million investment in mental health and substance-use services by Island Health.

The health authority is building 28 substance-use beds Island-wide in 2015, including in the central Island where it has plans to create addiction support for women and youth.

According to Island Health and social agencies, recovery supports exist for men, but the region is lacking the same kind of aid for women.

An average of 19 women go through detox in Nanaimo each month, but have to go up Island or to Victoria to find supportive recovery spaces, a service that allows them to stay up to three months while they get reoriented, find employment and reconnect with family.

Violet Hayes, executive director of the Island Crisis Care Society, said the need for the service is huge. Right now, there’s nothing for recovery, she said, adding that Nanaimo had a six-bed facility at Sophia House but the contract was cancelled about two years ago.

“Right now, women have to leave the community to get treatment, so it’s very challenging especially if the women have a family and want to maintain relationships with their family here in Nanaimo,” Hayes said, adding the Island Health announcement is very much needed.

Taryn O’Flanagan, executive director for the Nanaimo Region John Howard Society, agrees the announcement is a good thing, pointing out that addiction services for women are always in demand with “almost nothing available” on the Island.

Island Health is seeking requests for proposals for short-term recovery support for up to six women in a substance-use focused facility, as well as a two-bed stabilization service for aboriginal and other youth in the region.

The beds would allow young people to stay anywhere from 24 hours to two weeks to get their “feet under them” and make decisions about next steps, said Keva Glynn, Island Health director for strategic and tertiary mental health and substance use services.

“The overall aim is to support people who have substance-use issues,” said Glynn of Island Health’s plan to boost its system of support, from early intervention to outpatient services. “Literature shows that really that’s what people need, particularly the community-based supports so that they can live in their community and still access supports as they are moving further along their journey to recovery.”

Island Health will create 28 substance-use beds and 14 tertiary mental health care beds in 2015.

The move is linked to a three-year, $26.6-million plan to improve health and substance-use services, which began in 2012. Nanaimo has received $9.6 million of that funding.

Requests for proposals for new Nanaimo area services close this January. New services are hoped to be in place by spring 2015.