The first month of the new Stabilization Shelter in the Lighthouse has proved the absolute need for emergency housing for those who are intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. People who have not committed a criminal act but are being held in police detention due to being intoxicated has gone down 30% since the Stabilization Shelter at the Lighthouse opened.
This morning some key stats from the two year pilot project of providing a Primary Care Paramedic in Saskatoon Police Services cells reiterated the need for the community to come together to help those who are struggling in our community with addictions and mental health issues.
Some of those stats the Action Accord released today include examining the period from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013:
– During the two year period, 3,984 people were held in police service detention solely due to being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. On average that is 5.5 people per day and represents 19.8 per cent of all people in detention.
–During the same period, 2,670 people were turned away from the Brief Detoxification Unit because it was full. This equates to 3.7 people per day.
The Stabilization Shelter at the Lighthouse is composed of 20 army cots which can be reconfigured based on how many people check in to sleep for the night. On average there are 10-12 people staying in the shelter but that number has been as high as 15. More people are expected to use the facility as the weather cools and more people become aware that they can come to the Lighthouse for a safe, warm sleep while they may be under the influence.
When individuals arrive they are triaged to make sure they are stable enough to spend the night in the shelter. If they require medical supervision they are referred to Brief and Social Detox or the Emergency. Violent or unruly behaviour is not tolerated at all, and if people are combative the police are called.
Generally people come in, take off their outer layer of clothes and go to sleep fairly quickly. Staff at the Lighthouse wash their clothes while they are sleeping so that they have something fresh to put on in the morning. Toast, coffee, and juice or water is served in the morning to help settle the stomach and provide some nourishment.
As people leave for the day they have the opportunity to talk to one of our councillors on staff. Long-term stable housing is the focus for all those we serve, as well as proper health care or rehabilitation services, and employment opportunities or any other issues that may be affecting them. The Lighthouse has a volunteer which co-ordinates an AA meeting every Monday night at 8:00pm.
By providing a broad spectrum of housing the Lighthouse is able to meet the needs of the more vulnerable and at-risk individuals in our community. The Stabilization Shelter is an opportunity for individuals to learn about opportunities which will enable better lifestyle choices and hopefully inspire long-term changes.