Downtown Brantford is the site of the area’s first Safe Beds program.Based on Brant Avenue, the program, which is led and operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Brant Haldimand Norfolk branch, provides support and a place to stay for people experiencing crises. The aim is to keep them out of hospital, the association said in a news release.
The program will be officially launched with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon Friday.
“It has been a long time in the making, but CMHA Brant Haldimand Norfolk is thrilled to be able to support Brant County with the first Safe Beds program of its kind,” said branch executive director Michael Benin. “We greatly appreciate all of our community partners’ support in bringing this together and look forward to working with them to make Brantford and Brant County a healthier and safer community.”
The Brant Avenue facility will offer seven beds intended to support people, aged 16 and older, with mental-health or addictions issues. The association said those being helped may be in crisis, are medically cleared to be treated outside of hospital or have had police involvement but don’t require criminal detention.
All precautions are in place to protect individuals and staff from COVID-19, the association said.
The program, which will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week,, and employ 11 full-time personnel, offers stays for up to 30 days and connects people with community services, such as on-site justice support, case management, substance use counselling and peer support.
The program is partnering with St. Leonard’s Community Services to provide on-site addiction services, Helping Ourselves through Peer Support and Employment for on-site peer specialist support, Grand River Community Health Centre for access to a nurse practitioner and the Brant Community Healthcare System for access to virtual psychiatry and the Ontario Telemedicine Network. The facility’s downtown location also offers proximity to other community supports, the association said.
The association said a memorandum of understanding has been signed with Brantford police to aid referrals and diversion from hospital emergency rooms, and an MOU is pending with Brant OPP. Paramedics are expected to have an increased role in identifying appropriate referrals, the association said.
“The City of Brantford is fully supportive of CMHA Brant Haldimand Norfolk’s Safe Beds program and applauds the branch’s work in bringing community services together to support some of our most vulnerable individuals,” said Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis. “Simply put, this initiative will get people the help they need, when and where they need it, to support and maintain their wellness.”
The association said the Safe Beds program aims to:
• Provide individuals with voluntary community crisis accommodation and support;
• Improve the client’s situation by accessing supports from various services in the community;
• Provide a risk and safety assessment;
• Develop crisis planning and coping strategies;
• Provide supportive counselling for immediate crisis;
• Develop relapse prevention plans;
• Develop discharge planning;
• Provide follow up supports through case management;
• Reduce admissions to hospitals;
• And divert individuals from the justice system
“The Brant County Safe Beds program is a fantastic addition to the mental-health and addictions supports that are provided in our community,” said Sherry Kerr, chair of Brantford Brant Ontario Health Team. “CMHA Brant Haldimand Norfolk has been a great partner in bringing community health services together to improve the quality of care to those with mental health and addictions issues and those in crisis.”
The association noted that its existing crisis stabilization beds program in Norfolk County offers up to 10-day stays for people in crisis and diverts 200 people from hospital annually.