B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions says planning is underway to bring complex care housing to Kamloops and Kelowna, with the possibility of having 20 beds funded per city.
While in Kamloops on Wednesday announcing the addition of 35 new treatment beds in the Interior, Sheila Malcolmson said she knows there is “a lot of appetite” for complex care beds in these two communities.
Complex care beds are for people with untreated mental health and addictions challenges or brain injuries who haven’t had access to enough health care or other supports in order to stabilize.
“It will be addressing an unmet need. And we know that there's a lot of focus and hope for this,” Malcolmson said.
Malcolmson said $164 million was secured in February to create complex care housing, administered and delivered by health authorities, for 500 vulnerable people across the province.
She said the framework for this type of housing was built with the involvement of representatives from municipalities, healthcare practitioners, peers and Indigenous organizations.
“We really had a very good idea that in different communities, complex care housing would express in different ways. Kelowna and Kamloops both were communities that wanted to implement in a bit of a different way that had been done in other parts of the province,” Malcolmson said.
“For Kamloops and Kelowna, we secured funding, [we] intend there to be 20 beds for each community. But the funding so far has been for the planning process. And that's happening actively right now, with very constructive engagement from the municipal leaders at a staff level and Interior Health.”
Malcolmson said some municipalities wanted immediate implementation of complex care beds instead of new construction, but that conversation was “ongoing” with Kamloops and Kelowna.
“The municipalities in both cases have very constructively offered that they might have land, but we are feeling the urgency of getting vulnerable people connected with care. And that's news that we really hope to have something concrete to tell people soon, but it's because we're working with people on the ground to make sure we get it right.”
Malcolmson said a total of 285 complex care housing beds have been announced so far, including 100 beds implemented over four sites in Abbotsford, Vancouver and Surrey.
“We've announced altogether 285 complex care housing beds, but it's just those first 100 that we're starting to see people stabilized and hear what it means to them to have — it's almost like home care, home support, but for someone with mental health and addictions,” Malcolmson said.