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UPDATE – Chilliwack Councilor Comments – Fraser Health Fires Back On Media “Misinformation” On Abbotsford Mental Health Housing

Abbotsford/Yarrow -Last Friday, Fraser Health tried to set the media and public straight on the state of mental health facilities and beds available in the Fraser Valley. Chilliwack City Councilor Jsaon Lum who was one of many civic politicians attending the UBCM conference in Vancouver said this issue was prominent in discussions. Lum took to Facebook to out in his two cents worth.

Chilliwack City Councilor Jason Lum

This quote in the piece from Global in particular stuck out for me…

“There were 86 Licensed Care beds in Abbotsford in 2006, there will be just 64 when Mountain View closes and Marshall Road opens. A decade ago, they projected a need for 90 beds by 2016.

This is the resolution endorsed by the Union of BC Municipalities last week. The vote was endorsed unanimously – time for the Province to take notice…

Mental Health and Addiction Services and Resources:

Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government be called upon to develop a long-term, multi-faceted strategy to help people suffering from mental health and addiction issues including integrated health and psychiatric care, criminal justice reform, and access to affordable housing, as a matter of priority within the BC health care system;

And be it further resolved that UBCM call on the provincial government to ensure that the level of resourcing and facilities for providing mental health and addiction services are increased throughout the province to allow for improved access and treatment for those suffering from mental health issues, including addictions.”

Original Story – It has not been a kind week for Fraser Health. They have taken a lot of heat over reports of a shutdown of the Mountainview Mental Health facility in Yarrow and the reduced number of beds available for residential care.

Fraser Health released a statement from Andy Libbiter, Executive Director, Mental Health and Substance Use for Fraser Health. But optics are what they may. This was released on a Friday at 5PM. While people are heading home and many media outlets are getting ready for suppertime newscasts and have to scramble to cover this story.

Here is what Libbiter posted on the Fraser Health website:

I am very concerned about misinformation that is being shared through the media about housing for mental health clients in Abbotsford.

I want to be clear that there will be no loss of services in the community.

We are, in fact, increasing the number of mental health beds in the community as well as the range of services our clients can access.

It’s true that Fraser Health has given Mountainview, a 25-bed residential care facility, 365-days’ notice to end its contract with us. Three years ago, in 2012, we ended our contract with Sunrise and 30 residential care clients moved to new homes in the community. Sunrise was also funded for three units of transition or “bridge” housing. We are reinvesting all of this funding and more into the Marshall Road Campus of Care, and increasing capacity as a result.

Marshall Road will have 30 licensed care beds and 20 mental health assisted living beds – the first of its kind in Abbotsford – filling a gap in the mental health housing program continuum. We are also adding 18 mental health housing subsidies with support for clients who can live independently but still need some level of support.

In summary, we are replacing 58 mental health housing units from Mountainview Home and Sunrise with 68 mental health housing units: 30 licensed residential care beds, 20 mental health assisted living beds and 18 mental health housing subsidies with support, for a net increase in capacity of 10 mental health housing units for the Abbotsford community.

We are not only providing more capacity, we are also providing care that is better suited to our clients. We know that they want to live more independently in the community as they recover from their illness. Diversifying the nature of the beds available to them will support them in achieving this goal.

The Marshall Road facility will also accommodate individuals with mobility challenges and offer private rooms with ensuite bathrooms. The assisted living units will each offer a kitchenette and full bathroom and several units will also be wheelchair accessible.

The service provider, MPA Society, has a great reputation for results and has expertise in providing psychosocial rehabilitation in a way that supports each resident’s individual social ability and journey to recovery. We are confident that the Marshall Road facility will be an excellent addition to the range of services we are able to provide.

What does this mean for the 25 Mountainview residential care clients? Each one of them will be able to transition to the new Marshall Road facility if they choose to. If they don’t, we will support their transition to other housing placements in the community.

Change can be difficult for our clients, and that is why we are working closely with them and their families to develop independent care plans to support their transition either to Marshall Road, or other services that best meet their care needs. We have already met with all of our clients and the response has been very positive to date. We will continue to support our clients and their families over the coming year as they transition into their new homes, and will ensure their concerns are addressed and needs are met.

Andy Libbiter
Executive Director, Mental Health and Substance Use
Fraser Health


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