The Bella Coola General Hospital is launching a new community-based resource team to better support individuals who are struggling with substance misuse and mental health concerns.
The new team will be composed of three main members: Intensive Case Management Clinician Ruby Kaur, a Wellness Worker, and a part-time admin person. They will work closely with existing hospital and community services.
Kaur, who has a Masters Degree in Counselling Psychology, just arrived in Bella Coola from Toronto last week. She is supported by Carole Clark, Mental Health Programs Manager at the Bella Coola Hospital, existing, hospital and community services, and the Stepping Stones Concurrent Disorder Service in North Vancouver.
“The program is really person-centered and the case load is small, about 20 people,” Kaur explained. “It’s really about establishing connections and building relationships so that we can help people achieve their goals. It will be important to collaborate with all existing programs.”
Persons identified to be a good fit for the program will be approached and offered the service. If they chose to enter the program they will be offered support and continuing care to manage conditions such as substance abuse, chronic health conditions, and mental health supports.
“This approach is proactive rather than reactive,” explained Clark. “We want to help stop those repeat hospital visits by catching people before they are in a crisis.”
The Bella Coola team will be modeled after several similar programs in other communities within Vancouver Coastal Health and other regions. It follows Ministry of Health initiative known as the “Intensive Case Management Team” model of care that was developed in response to the fentanyl crisis, and is intended to “improve health, social functioning, and access to care for ICMT client.”
According to the standards and guidelines for ICMT, the people we want to serve are adults 19 years or older who are struggling with problematic substance abuse with or without mental illness, concurrent disorders and complex challenges in relation to health, housing, and poverty.
These people may make frequent hospital visits or may be disengaged from receiving services. The resource team is meant to address these gaps by getting out “on the ground” and discovering what our community needs.
“We visited Port Hardy last year to have a look at how their team is functioning and it was doing really well,” said Clark. “However, our team will be tailor-made for Bella Coola and we’ll be continually adapting our approach to ensure we are meeting the needs of our community.”
In addition to the three permanent positions, the team will also be engaging individuals through contract work for areas such as Cultural Knowledge and Peer Support to ensure their approach adequately reflects the community they serve.
The program is expected to be fully up and running by January 2018, and a similar team will also be based in Bella Bella.
Success has been reported in regions around the province who have employed the resource team approach for their communities, and Clark is confident the benefits will come to Bella Coola.
“This is an ongoing program: we’re in it for the long haul,” said Clark. “We’re very excited to add this service to the community.”