People suffering from mental health and addiction issues won’t be left out in the cold much longer.
Eight support recovery beds are set to be made available in Nelson by the end of the month. The program is being run by ANKORS, which provides a variety of harm-reduction and education services related to sexual health, drug use, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.
Cheryl Dowden, the executive director of ANKORS, says the beds will provide a new level of support for people throughout the region.
“We’ve wanted these services to be closer to home for people who live in our communities and would have to rely less on going so far away to get this kind of support,” said Dowden. “I would say this has been a dream for a lot of us for a very long time.”
The funding for the beds was announced by Interior Health in November as part of a province-wide initiative that includes 73 beds opened throughout BC.
The program, the first of its kind in Nelson, provides a safe, substance-free and fully staffed setting for patients in the Kootenay Boundary region.
Support workers include those with experience in addiction recovery as well as providing advice on returning to life after patients leave the program.
Community members have also approached ANKORS with offers of other services such as yoga and mindfulness practice.
Three anonymous residential houses provided by Nelson CARES will be used, one of which may end up being provided exclusively for women or families. Dowden said the program is a community effort.
“Although we are holding the contract and we have leadership on this, really this is something that our community has been working for for a really long time so our partnerships are really integral to making sure this happens in a way that provides the best service to individuals who are looking for support around unwanted substance abuse,” she said.
The duration patients can stay in the program also differs from typical recovery plans. Instead of the standard month-long stay, the Nelson beds will be made available for up to six months. Dowden added staff will work early on with patients on preparing for their return to life outside the housing, so that no one is still in need of help after the six months are up.
The beds, she said, are indicative of a sea change in how addictions are treated.
“It’s a recognition that people need more support when it comes to supporting their recovery process,” said Dowden.
“A twenty-eight day program is great but people need housing support, people need support beyond that 28-day program.”