Government invests $2.9 million in Addictions and Mental Health’s ‘Back-at-Home’ program

(iStock photo)
JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

An investment of nearly $3 million by the provincial government to a regional mental health group is expected to ease occupancy volumes of Alternate Level of Care patients at local hospitals and long term care homes.

On Sunday it was announced by Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith that the Government of Ontario is providing $2.9 million to Addictions and Mental Health Services Hastings Prince Edward (AMHS – HPE) to rehome people with a history of addictions, mental health and other co-morbidities residing in hospitals or long-term care homes.

Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

Through the AMHS-HPE Back to Home Program, people filling Alternate Level of Care beds in Quinte Health Care (QHC) hospitals could benefit from approximately 30 new-build or retrofit housing units in Belleville that would be served 24/7 by staff providing wrap-around services such as case management, mental health and addictions counselling, nursing, and personal supports. Community participation and networking would also be encouraged, with a conscious effort made to reduce stigma for residents.

“This project will provide safe housing and life-changing support for some of the Quinte region’s most vulnerable residents,” said Smith. “At the same time, this housing will ease some of the pressure on QHC and improve access to health-care services in this region. The benefit will be wide-reaching.”

Smith noted that as part of its application, AMHS-HPE presented empirical data to quantify the value of its project.  Over the past five years, QHC has had an average of 24 ALC patients with mental health or addictions per year. Those patients — many with complex health needs and multiple diagnoses — represent more than 3,500 patient days over that time span. Several patients have been in institutionalized settings for two-to-three years and have had limited access to health services, like primary care, or affordable housing. Some have transitioned out of hospital to long-term care, only to return to a hospital setting.

AMHS-HPE Chief Executive Officer Garry Laws was pleased to learn the project will move forward.

“The announcement of this Back to Home funding is extremely critical for Hastings-Prince Edward and all of the patients who are inappropriately housed in hospitals or long-term care beds,” Laws said. “This funding will provide patients in Alternate Level of Care beds with an affordable housing option while they receive quality health care. On behalf of the board of directors, thank you to the Ministry of Health for recognizing AMHS-HPE’s proposal.”

Laws indicated AMHS-HPE intends to partner with QHC, Ontario Health Teams, community service providers, and cultural leaders to successfully implement the Back To Home program.

The funding, which includes rent supplements,  is related to a $13.7-million commitment to Back to Home programs across Ontario, announced by Michael Tibollo, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Steve Clark, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in December as part of $176 million in new investments as part of the Province’s 10-year Roadmap to Wellness strategy. 

“Every person in Ontario deserves access to the most appropriate supports as they move forward in their journey to mental wellness,” said Tibollo. “By investing in supportive housing for Ontario’s challenged by mental health and addictions issues, we are providing some of our most vulnerable populations with access to safe and secure housing, as well as access to the services they need, when and where they need them.”

Added Clark: “COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Ontarians who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and our government is committed to getting them the mental health and addictions support they need. This is a crucial first step down the road to recovery for those who are suffering from these issues.”

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES