The StarPhoenix: Lighthouse unit provides new option

By Janet French of The StarPhoenix

A new partnership between Lighthouse Supported Living and the Saskatoon Health Region is giving people with mental health and addictions issues a new option for living independently.

Next week, tenants will begin moving into eight newly renovated rooms in the Lighthouse’s downtown building, where the will have access to counsellors, social workers and other health services. A ninth room in the building’s new “complex needs” wing will be available for emergency shelter.

Lighthouse executive director Don Windels says the idea is for people who struggle with mental health and addictions to get the help they need while living in their own space, and eventually, moving on to live more independently when they’re well.”By working together in Saskatoon we can ensure everyone has a place to call home,” Windels said.

A news release says the wing will provide a “supportive, stabilizing environment” for people with severe and persistent issues who may otherwise be moving around a lot. Three counsellors from the health region will offer emotional and psychological support, help manage their medication, and help residents develop life skills.

Having a safe place to live is a critical first step in dealing with other complex issues, says Tracy Muggli, director of mental health and addiction services with the health region.

“Imagine not having a roof over your head, then our society expecting you to be able to deal with the other many challenges you might have,” she said. “I think our community is hearing that message. We’re making great strides and this is such a privilege to be able to support the Lighthouse moving forward on this initiative.”

The health region granted the Lighthouse $170,000 to renovate a floor of its Second Avenue South building, which now features bright bedrooms with private bathrooms and wooden floors.

Residents are served three meals a day in a central kitchen, along with the other 60 residents of the Lighthouse.

The region is also contributing $120,000 a year to pay for staff to work on-site. In addition to social workers and counsellors, the region will also send nurses, occupational therapists and other professionals over from time to time.

Eight people who could benefit from the facility are already lined up to move in, starting Monday.

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