Every Thursday, you can find Michele Delory at Storeys—a community housing residence that supports some of the most vulnerable people in Richmond. She's there for OATMEAL—an innovative program run out of the Anne Vogel Clinic (AVC) designed to encourage clients to connect with one another.
“We had tried different programs based in our clinic to support people in the community struggling with mental health and addictions, but they never really worked," says Michele.
So, the team did some digging to find out why. Turns out it was too structured.
“The people we're trying to reach and provide support to live very chaotic lives due to their drug use," she said. “We decided that if this was really going to work, we needed it to be low barrier and it needed to be out in the community."
And so they did just that, and the results have been one of the drivers behind Anne Vogel clinic's impressive 86 percent retention rate—one of the highest in the region.
“I'm there every week at 1 p.m. regardless if anyone is going to come—it helps build trust because they know we're going to be there," says Michele, adding that there's no agenda to these meet-ups—just friendly conversation, a nice little walk, and a meal. “I just want people connecting with each other. People struggling with mental health and addictions are can be very disconnected, and they often isolate. Getting people moving and talking is my only goal."
This concept of removing barriers and meeting people where they're at is at the crux of many other programs run in conjunction with AVC such as Acute Home-Based Treatment (AHBT), the Overdose Outreach Team (OOT) and the Drug and Alcohol Resource Team (DART). AHBT for example, provides quick access to opioid replacement therapies—meeting clients in their homes or other convenient locations to get them started on their treatment or detox, and then refer them back to AVC.
“If someone is just starting out on their recovery journey and you don't catch them in that moment due to roadblocks such as waitlists or a busy clinic, it's hard for them. And you might lose them," says Michele. “AHBT helps them get started without having to wait."
The clinic also accepts daily walk-ins and doesn't put a time frame on how long clients can receive support— they are making it easier for people to get the help they need, when they need it, where they need it.
“Our programs work tightly together and seamlessly along our continuum of care to initiate and provide on-going care," says program manager, Jerod Killick. “We make every effort to connect our clients to the services they need quickly, and seamlessly. Our team is constantly problem solving and connecting to figure out the best way to help our clients."