By Lethbridge Herald on March 3, 2020.
Lethbridge Herald — STANDOFF
The province announced it will be funding 18 additional treatment beds at the Bringing the Spirit Home Safe Sobering Site on the Blood Reserve.
Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan made the announcement in Standoff on Tuesday, confirming the province would provide $6.6 million over the next three years to fund the additional spaces.
And while the provincial funding did not cover all beds at the facility — there are 34 being used in total — the Blood Tribe was grateful the province would now be fully funding 24 of those beds when it had previously only funded six, said Martin Heavy Head, who serves as chair of the Blood Tribe Department of Health Board.
“It feels great,” said Heavy Head, “that’s what we have been working towards. It’s a culmination of the work that has been going on for several years.”
Luan said he was impressed with the model of health-care delivery at Bringing the Spirit Home with all the wrap-around supports offered to patients entering treatment at the site, the only site in the province which has the resources in place to offer full medical detox support services and all wrap-around support services from the first day a patient walks in until they are ready to move along to the next stage of their longer-term recovery journey.
“This is a great example,” said Luan. “This is an EMS-led initiative in partnership with the community here. You can see their wrap-around services are far more effective than when you put people into the emergency in hospitals and then put them out into the community.”
It was a model, he hoped, other communities in the province would seriously look at when considering how to set up similar facilities elsewhere.
“I wholeheartedly believe this is a better way of changing lives,” Luan said, pointing to the program’s emphasis on recovery and community involvement in providing a continuum of care following detox. “At the end of the day, treatment is only the beginning of the recovery journey. It’s a life-changing experience and when you change that you ought to change your natural support system. That is your community. So having this kind of wrap-around response (combined) with medical sobering and detox, it gets that much closer to real-life help. I think it is wonderful.”
Luan did acknowledge that $2.2 million per year over the next three years does not pay for all the spaces Bringing the Spirit Home provides, but said the need for funding for addictions care and treatment was great throughout the province.
“We’re doing the best that we can in the quickest way we could,” he said, praising the Blood Tribe’s collaboration with other partners to keep its service running. “At the end of the day, I always believe, we already have so many helpers, agents and players in the field that it is a heckuva difficult time to co-ordinate everybody to act together. When agencies like this take a collaborative approach, and draw other providers into what they are doing, to me that’s a great success.”
Heavy Head agreed collaboration and ongoing support was key — not only at Bringing the Spirit Home, but also when a patient was ready to take the next step to re-enter society. Heavy Head said right now on the Blood Tribe reserve that last part of the recovery journey, supportive care in social re-integration, was still a work in progress.
“We have always been talking about a continuum of care from detox to treatment, and then reintegration back into the community,” he said. “We’ve got to have all these steps in place. Right now, this is working where there are some treatment centres we can take people to that are focused opioids. And then, of course, people are still on suboxone — that’s up to them to work towards (getting off of) that. There have been some that have gone all the way just on their own will, but certainly having that continuum of care would help a lot more people.”
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