Vancouver – Vancouver Coastal Health today announced plans to open a new Downtown Eastside (DTES) Mental Health and Substance Use drop-in centre that will improve and expand on support services provided to vulnerable clients in the neighbourhood, and provide stronger connections to the health care system.
The new drop-in centre is part of service improvements recommended in the DTES Second Generation Strategy, a VCH plan that examined how to better meet the changing needs of clients who live in the area.
“For vulnerable populations needing support with mental health and substance use problems, it is essential to provide services that are easy to access, coordinated, and consistent throughout the patient journey,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “It’s great to see VCH taking action to ensure the services offered in the Downtown Eastside community meet these criteria.”
The new drop-in will be located at 528 Powell St. It will not only offer clients respite from the street, but will also include:
- expanded hours of operation to seven days a week, 12 hours a day;
- improved accessibility for clients to specific health services based on their personal needs;
- psychosocial rehabilitation programs and supports on topics such as hygiene, self-care, vocational training, nutrition and harm reduction;
- opportunities for peer involvement in services to improve the delivery of care for clients.
The contract to manage and operate the Mental Health and Substance Use drop-in centre has been awarded to the Lookout Emergency Aid Society (Lookout).
“After a comprehensive RFP process, we are pleased to announce Lookout as the successful service provider and look forward to working with them in partnership as they provide improved, peer-supported drop-in services to our clients to support their better health and recovery,” said Laura Case, Chief Operating Officer Vancouver Community, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). “Lookout is an experienced and well-respected non-profit organization in the DTES community and has been a good partner with VCH in client services over the years.”
“Lookout is excited to be working in partnership with VCH on the new drop-in centre and model that will not only provide a safe place for people with mental health and addictions to come and hang out, it will also provide stronger connections to the health care system and services these community members need,” said Shayne Williams, Executive Director of Lookout. “We have been working in the DTES since 1971, walking alongside those who are marginalized in our community and look forward to this next step in continuing to fulfill our mandate towards helping those in need help themselves.”
The drop-in centre will also assist in connecting clients with untreated substance use problems to a new walk-in service that VCH will be opening nearby in the fall of 2016, further enhancing services and support for clients.
“The new drop-in, in addition to the many other service enhancements underway in the DTES, are aimed at not only providing respite from the street but connecting clients to appropriate health care services and maintaining those connections over time. All this will benefit our most vulnerable and marginalized clients who we have had challenges reaching with sustained health care in the past,” said Dr. Rolando Barrios, VCH Senior Medical Director, Vancouver Community.
The new drop-in centre will replace two existing drop-in centres: DURC (Drug Users Resource Centre) and a drop-in currently operated by Lookout, the LivingRoom. The new drop-in centre will be located in the same location as the LivingRoom. DURC is located at a VCH-leased site and is currently operated under contract with the Portland Hotel Society (PHS).
With the new drop-in freeing up space at the former DURC site, VCH will be exploring options with BC Housing and community partners to ensure best use of space in the DTES.
“We would like to thank PHS for the hard work they have done over the years in supporting clients at DURC,” said Case. “PHS remains an important partner, and continues to have 18 contracts worth more than $8 million with VCH to provide services and supports in the DTES.”
VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.4 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, and Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
Anna Marie D’Angelo
Senior Media Relations Officer
Vancouver Coastal Health