New Calgary detox beds reduces wait times, opens opportunities for further education
New detox beds part of Alberta government’s Mental Health Review
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Bryan Hume says it’s difficult to see kids wait for mental health treatment because, when it comes to detox beds, Calgary has seen its fair share of being at capacity.
But that glut has lessened, he says, as Hull Services has seen wait times reduce by 92 per cent over the course of nine months, ever since three new detox beds, under the Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act (PChAD), were added to the centre earlier this year.
“Considering the ongoing challenges of addiction space concerns for youth in the province, just having increased beds really results in a lot less wait time and easier access for families to get themselves connected with the program,” said Hume, senior program co-ordinator with Hull Services.
In July 2016, Alberta Health Services (AHS) said the average wait time for a PChAD bed in the Calgary Zone was one day, a 92 per cent drop from 13 days in October 2015.
Funding three new beds at Hull Services was one of Alberta Health’s six key priorities within its Mental Health Review, released in February 2016. The new beds bring the total count to nine, a 50 per cent increase from six.
Though three new beds doesn’t seem like much, Hume said the additional spaces have had a huge impact for Hull’s patients.
“I think just generally we’re able to meet the needs of youth and families that have these kinds of issues,” he said. “I think that it’s great that there are three new beds, for sure.”
The PChAD program is geared to help kids under 18 who are likely to cause significant psychological or physical harm to themselves or others, according to AHS.
PChAD lets parents or legal guardians ask the court for a protection order, meaning their children can be placed in a protective safe house for up to 10 days, even if they don’t want to go.
In the program, parents are invited to get involved in the process while counsellors have a chance to assess children’s substance use and provide recommendations to follow once they’ve been discharged.
Hume said kids need an opportunity and a safe space where staff are supporting their detox.
“It’s a safe space to learn, gather information, and get some support around a whole variety of issues,” he said. “Some of that is relational struggles and addictions-based.
“Having more beds opens up the opportunity for youth to understand what’s going on for them and make safer choices going forward.”