Substance use beds made in region: IH

16 community-based beds will be added by next year

Kootenay Boundary has the programming for mental health substance use in place, but until now, no dedicated beds for detox or recovery management.

That will change by next year with the addition of 16 community-based adult beds, eight for withdrawal management and eight for support recovery, Interior Health (IH) reported Wednesday.

The new beds are part of IH’s plan to meet the province-wide initiative to add 500 substance use spaces for patients requiring a safe, substance-free setting while awaiting residential treatment or to support transition into a most stable lifestyle post-treatment.

The strategy is part of a growing awareness around the complexities and challenges of treating substance use, says David Harrhy, IH’s executive director for mental health and substance use.

“We know people dealing with substance use issues and perhaps other health issues are often challenged by not only dealing with their own recovery, but also dealing with issues around housing and jobs,” he explained, noting IH currently has 121 substance use beds outside the Kootenay Boundary. “And the absence of those things can often exacerbate or certainly complicate the recovery process.”

Providing recovery support beds will allow people to actively deal with their recovery and reacquaint them with skills required for a more stable lifestyle, Harrhy added.

“Those things are really important to help them re-engage with the community.”

With such a large Kootenay Boundary territory and multiple communities to service, Harrhy says IH will study existing service patterns, how they are being accessed, and take into account available resources as well as patient hubs.

“We really want to listen to folks in-the-know,” he said. “Next week, we will be releasing the (RFP) Request for Proposal for the support recovery beds and we look forward to receiving information from local service providers who are interested in providing these services, (including) where those services are located.”

He clarified the beds will be community-based and not in hospital.

“There are multiple stages to the RFP, the first being for the support recovery beds, then in May we will release a subsequent RFP for withdrawal management beds.”

IH is focusing its resources on five key strategies to shift the system away from hospital toward community-based care. One of those strategies is directed at improving primary and community care outcomes for mental health and substance use patients.

“What tends to happen is people with complex substance use issues often, not always, have co-occurring health issues that certainly makes the treatment component challenging, ” said Harrhy. “Time-to-time they will present to the emergency department and then the inpatient unit at KBRH.

“So the services will decrease the number of people presenting to KBRH for detox, and that will be particularly helpful.”

Besides the 16 Kootenay Boundary beds, IH is adding another 57 spaces from the Thompson Cariboo through the Okanagan region and eight support beds in the East Kootenay.

“Improving outcomes for mental health and substance use clients is a top priority for Interior Health,” IH Board Chair Erwin Malzer stated in the report. “These additional beds for both adults and youth represent a significant improvement and will help ensure appropriate level of supports and services are available to those requiring them.”

The four youth withdrawal management beds will be placed in the Central Kootenay.