Bringing health services home – Champlain LHIN improving care for people with mental health conditions and addictions
The journey of two Jamie’s – “I’ve got a new family here, and everything is going great.”
Nov 29, 2016 - Life was full of tough days for both Jamie Sullivan and Jamie Schultz before they moved to Gardner Street Enhanced Supportive Housing in Ottawa.
Jamie Sullivan struggled with substance use and spent some time in jail. Since moving into the Gardner residence, the 25-year-old has reconnected with his family, hasn’t had problems with the justice system, and is less troubled by anxiety.
Jamie Schultz, 39, had lived on the street for years. He now calls the Gardner residence his permanent home. “I’ve got a new family here and everything is going great,” he says with a big smile. “I can’t say how happy I am.”
| Jamie Sullivan, Gidget, Jamie Schultz, Lynn Burnett
Gardner Street Enhanced Supportive Housing opened its doors in September 2015 and houses 34 residents. It includes four accessible units.
To qualify for the program, clients must have been in shelter for a minimum of two years and require intensive health-care support. The program, built on a Housing First model, focuses on recovery by providing permanent housing and assistance to help formerly homeless people who have mental health issues and addictions.
The supplementary health-care services in the program are funded by the Champlain LHIN and delivered by Ottawa Inner City Health.
As part of the program, residents like Jamie Sullivan and Jamie Schultz receive peer support, are accompanied to medical appointments, can connect quickly with a 24/7 on-call registered nurse and obtain on-call physicians services when needed. A client-care worker helps residents manage their medications and structure their daily routines. These added services are making a real difference for residents.
“Many of our Gardner clients previously got apartments units or rooming services, but they didn’t do as well because the supplemental support services weren’t there,” says Lynn Burnett, a program care coordinator at Gardner. “I think without the LHIN support, this building would not be successful, because you wouldn’t have the added health services in place."
The Champlain LHIN has increased community mental health and addictions funding by 22 per cent, an increase of $17 million annually since 2009-10. The health services provided at Gardner Street Enhanced Supportive Housing are just one of many significant LHIN investments to help clients avoid unnecessary emergency visits and hospital admissions.
“One of our key aims is to provide a better health-care experience for people across the region, whether they are being treated in a hospital bed, visiting a health centre in the community, or receiving services at home,” says Chantale LeClerc, Champlain LHIN CEO. “We want to provide services when and where clients need them, and that’s especially important while serving those who are living with mental health conditions and addictions.”
Jamie Sullivan is still haunted by the past, and his greatest fear is becoming homeless again. “I couldn’t bear the thought of it,” he says. He also believes the new approach can make a difference to entire communities. “If there could be more places like this, it could solve the whole problem downtown and the issue with drugs.”
“Gardner Street Enhanced Supportive Housing provides a vital service to the most vulnerable people in our community. It is so important that we provide the services and care to those who need it most, especially those living with mental health and addictions challenges.
This program is just one of the many investments our government is making to improve health care for all Ontarians and provide the community supports needed to live a healthy life.”
- Yasir Naqvi, MPP, Ottawa Centre
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Senior Integration Specialist
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