April 10, 2013 - 4:40 PM
One resident gave his family a tour of the South Hills facility while several more sat waiting patiently for the cake to be cut as staff and residents celebrated 10 years with an open house Wednesday afternoon.
The South Hills Tertiary Psychiatric Rehabilitation centre opened in 2003 as part of the phasing out of Riverview Hospital – an asylum-type facility in Coquitlam. The Brocklehurst centre, comprised of two “cottages” of 20 beds each, provides a transitional environment for individuals who require ongoing treatment but are not as risk to themselves or others.
Staffed around the clock, each cottage is split into four pods of five bedrooms with common living space and kitchens. Staff assist the residents with grocery shopping and residents prepare all their own meals in their shared kitchen.
Enabling this type of independent living is a key factor in the success of the program that over the last 10 years has seen more than 490 admissions and 459 discharges (as of March 1, 2013.) The average length of stay is just under 260 days and 59 per cent of admissions are male.
Centre manager Shelley Mitchell says the celebration is a “really, really big deal. We really are a group of folks that embody the saying, 'if you build it they will come'. We continue to fill our capacity, continue to bring people in.”
She says nearly 40 per cent of residents are diagnosed with more than one mental health condition and 32 per cent of all diagnosis include schizophrenia. Most notably though Mitchell says, is that 34 per cent of residents go home after discharge and not to another care facility, which is a clear indication of the success of their program.
Another great success is the retention of employees – 13 are celebrating 10 years with Interior Health this year, many with South Hills for much of the time it has been in operation.
The centre has met, and continues to meet, all 13 goals for the program including consultation, meaningful daily activities and privacy.
“We ensure that personal preferences are respected. We need to go that extra mile to ensure they are successful.” Mitchell says of the program, which aims at improving the lives of all the residents.
She adds they are in the community all the time, doing all sorts of activities and some residents are taking courses, going back to school and getting jobs. While family involvement in meaningful ways is accomplished, Mitchell believes they can do better at it and says it is one of the future goals for staff.
Another way the centre is different from many other facilities is the accommodation of resident requests.
“These are philosophies that have not necessarily been part of mental health. We are forging new ground,” Mitchell proudly states.
Mitchell says the facility would not be as successful if it were not for community involvement. From sponsorship to volunteers to employers, she says Kamloops has always been supportive of the program which enables residents to re-integrate in to the community more easily.
Interior Health tertiary mental health medical director Dr. Paul Dagg says, “one of the most challenging roadblocks people face is discrimination. People with mental illness need to be seen and accepted, and South Hills plays a vital role in making this happen.”
There are several options in Kamloops for mental health and substance abuse services, with Hillside Centre being the highest level of care. South Hills is one of the only tertiary centres in the B.C. geared towards re-integration.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013