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Clients Benefit from Physiotherapy Program

Physiotherapy is an important sector of the healthcare field, especially as an aid to recovering from an injury or treating physical limitations. Unfortunately, it is difficult to secure funding in this area for underprivileged members of our community. After recognizing a need for physiotherapy at The Lighthouse, Nurse Practitioner Jeannie Coe set out to create a volunteer based program. She contacted the Saskatchewan Physiotherapy Association who put out an email and several members responded. One of them was CBI Health Group who offered to donate their services free of charge.

The program launched in April, and has been seeing positive results over the past two months. A group of five young physiotherapists have been taking turns coming to The Lighthouse every Friday afternoon to meet with clients and assess their health concerns.

Calla Belyk, Lacey Nairn Pederson, Ryan Fehr, Garnette Weber and Shelby Schemenauer

Physiostherapists Calla Belyk, Lacey Nairn Pederson, Ryan Fehr, Garnette Weber and Shelby Schemenauer

Ryan Fehr and Lindsey Tasker are two physios who jumped at the opportunity to work at The Lighthouse. “I was really excited to see different presentations of various conditions that I had never seen before,” says Tasker, “so it’s been exciting for me just as a therapist to gain more experience.”

Fehr says they’ve been seeing “a variety of clients presenting with different neurological and musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, both acute and chronic.” Tasker nods in agreement and adds, “I’ve seen long standing injuries that never got attention, which should have probably seen therapy at some point after the injury. So we’re seeing them months, years later. It’s unfortunate, but at least we can provide care now and get people on the right path.”

When the therapists meet a client, they assess their injury, answer questions and decide on the best method of treatment. Sometimes they give clients stretches or exercises to do every day, and they print out pictures to help them remember. “But there’s also the education component,” Fehr explains, “because a lot of these people have chronic pain or arthritic pain that they don’t understand. One thing as physios that we really try to promote is independence in your own care. We assist where needed, and then give them control to take care of themselves.”

Although they encourage clients to come back for follow up sessions, Tasker says the most challenging part is not knowing if they will see their patients again, “I find I’m definitely spending a lot more time educating them on a bunch of different things, where normally I would spread that out over several visits at the clinic.”

Fehr and Tasker also have the opportunity to train students through this program. Second year physiotherapy students from the U of S have been sitting in on assessments for the past few weeks and say they’ve been learning a lot. “It’s a different population than what we normally get exposed to, which I think is the most valuable part,” says Shelby Schemenauer.

Lighthouse resident Gabriel Montgrand "Mimi" and Lindsey Tasker

Lighthouse resident Gabriel Montgrand “Mimi” and Lindsey Tasker

After seeing the physiotherapist, clients have been speaking with Garnette Weber, who is the Physio Project Manager. She has just started conducting a survey to gather information about the results of the program. Weber plans on using her research to apply for long term funding towards a permanent physiotherapy position at The Lighthouse.

Everyone involved with the program says that a full time physiotherapist is a much needed service at The Lighthouse. “It would be very challenging for a lot of the residents to be able to access physio outside of here,” says Weber, “They’ve really appreciated that it was available here and they can just go in when it fit with them in a place where they’re comfortable.”

With the Education and Wellness Center set to be completed by the end of September, a more frequent physiotherapy program would be welcomed. The center’s gym and exercise area offers the perfect environment for a therapist to conduct fitness classes designed to work on muscle strength, balance and body awareness.

Although the future of the program is up in the air, Fehr and Tasker have learned a lot from this valuable experience. Both therapists agree that the clients are the best part, “The people we’ve met are incredible and they’re very friendly and very appreciative of our care,” says Fehr, “To hear their stories and to give them a chance to tell their stories, it’s been a really good opportunity. And then we can share our experiences and try to change that stigma and the way others think about homeless people in Saskatoon.”

Saskatoon Health Region Partners With The Lighthouse And M.D. Ambulance To Improve Health Care In The Community

Saskatoon Health Region’s 14-Day Challenge, which ended yesterday, has resulted in a new six-month pilot project at the Lighthouse Supported Living in partnership with the Region and M.D. Ambulance. The Lighthouse is a community-based organization that provides emergency shelter, supported living and affordable housing to those in need in Saskatoon.

As part of the six-month pilot project, the Lighthouse will:​

  • Dedicate another eight beds to clients with mental health complex needs and expand support to clients 24 hours a day. The increase in beds from 9 to 17 will support people to transition to independent living.
  • Expand the Stabilization Unit to 24 hours. The unit currently provides emergency shelter to clients under the influence of drugs or alcohol from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. The increase in hours is expected to reduce substance misuse and mental health-related admissions to emergency departments, and improve access to addiction support.
  • IMG_9232Expand the Lighthouse Mobile Outreach service from six to 16 hours a day, improving access to services, reducing the use of ambulances and ensuring case managers can spend less time transporting clients and more time assisting them one-on-one. The Mobile Outreach service allows a team of two to provide transportation to homeless or struggling individuals to the Lighthouse or other support services.

Have a paramedic on site 12 hours a day, seven days a week. An embedded paramedic on the Lighthouse’s primary health team will be able to provide emergency assessment and triage, as well as general paramedicine, reducing the need for ambulance and acute care access.

  • Add a care aide, addictions counsellor and increased primary health nurse practitioner hours to the team to improve continuity of care, enhance referral and access to appropriate services and advance coordination of multiple health team members on site.

Overall, the expansion of services is meant to decrease emergency department visits and consults, ambulance and police calls, and inpatient admissions to acute care by ensuring the right care by the right provider at the right time in the right place. For more information on consults, click here​.

“Saskatoon Health Region is making investments at the Lighthouse that will have a significant impact on the quality of life for Lighthouse residents and those using their shelter services,” says Tracy Muggli, Director of Mental Health and Addictions Services, Saskatoon Health Region. “Improving the overall health status and outcomes of Lighthouse residents in an environment they are already accessing will improve the quality of life of some of the most vulnerable, high-needs and at-risk individuals in our community.”

The community paramedicine model is an important piece to ensure clients are provided the right care at the right time in their homes.

“M.D. Ambulance is pleased to have a paramedic embedded with the Lighthouse care team,” says Gerry Schriemer, Chief Operating Officer for M.D. Ambulance. “The paramedic will bring a skill set that will assist the decision-making process to ensure that clients receive the right care utilizing the right resources at the right facilities.”

The pilot project is a result of the Region’s ongoing planning sessions as part of the Lighthouse Integrated Health and Shelter Team.

“We are very thankful for the support of Saskatoon Health Region and M.D. Ambulance, allowing us to work together to help men and women achieve greater health, stability and independence,” says Don Windels, Executive Director of the Lighthouse Supported Living. “Through co-operation in our community we can address gaps in the system and help improve the lives of those in Saskatoon.”

Learn more about the services provided at the Lighthouse Supported Living:

Learn more about the Region’s 14-Day Challenge:

“The Wrong Person Died”

David Ristow was lying next to his partner when she was shot and killed. He survived the bullet but the mental scars remain

First he bought the booze. It was a bottle of Bacardi white rum. After downing it, he went to a Dollar Store and bought a cheap box cutter.

Then, on a fall day more than a year ago, David Ristow settled himself down in an alley on Second Avenue between some garbage cans.

“I sat there, I cut my neck open,” Ristow said.

“I had had enough. I didn’t want to deal with things anymore. I just wanted to die. I just wanted to get it over with.”

This was not the first time Ristow tried to take his own life. Ever since his common-law wife Susan Reinhardt was shot and killed by her ex-husband while he laid next to her in bed, Ristow’s life had been on a downward spiral. Sitting in that alley, bleeding from his neck, he thought only of Reinhardt. He was scheduled to testify at the trial for her murder that week.

“I kept thinking if there was an afterlife then I will be with her, I will join her,” Ristow said.

Ristow was sleeping next to Reinhardt in their Fourth Avenue North apartment on July 15, 2006 when George Allgood fired a 12-gauge shotgun through an open patio door. Ristow woke up and felt a “big hunk of skin” on his side. The bed was wet from blood. Ristow said he didn’t know what happened. Eventually, it was a city homicide

detective who broke the news that Reinhardt had been murdered.

From that moment on and for the better part of a decade his life fell apart, he says. He drank, he collected government cheques, and did little else.

“I had nothing all of sudden. I didn’t know what to do. I’m not really sure what I did for a couple of years. I can’t even remember, but it wasn’t much,” Ristow said. That’s when he found his way to The Lighthouse. Dennis Bueckert remembers first seeing Ristow when he walked into a weekly recovery meeting hosted at the shelter.

“At that time I knew nothing about him,” Bueckert said.

“I was floored when I first heard about this because I didn’t realize what this guy had been through.”

Ristow is no stranger to the criminal justice system. He left school when he was 17 and, according to court records, was convicted of armed robbery a year later. In 1997 he assaulted his common-law wife. In the intervening years, he had convictions for impaired driving. For much of his adult life, his run-ins with police didn’t stop.

He said he was slowly piecing his life back together when he met Reinhardt at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. As is custom, he gave Reinhardt his phone number and offered her support in her recovery. A month later she phoned him in the middle of the night. A week after that, they were living together in Reinhardt’s house.

The couple began holding weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in their living room. It was a popular meeting, Ristow said, partly because the city’s smoking ban didn’t apply.

“It was the only meeting in the whole city where you could smoke … drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes is a joy,” Ristow laughed.

It took Ristow seven years to find his way to The Lighthouse after Reinhardt’s murder. Part homeless shelter, part affordable living complex, the Lighthouse offered Ristow shelter from the street and valuable work experience.

Even once he was offered a spot in the shelter’s work training program, he still struggled with alcohol.

And when George Allgood’s murder trial began, painful memories resurfaced for Ristow. That was the last time he tried to kill himself.

“The wrong person died. She was the better person. He should have killed me

and she should be the person still alive,” Ristow said.

Ristow has been sober for two months now. He is on medication for depression. He spends most of his days sorting laundry and donated clothes. The shelter pays him $150 a month for his work, money that supplements his social assistance cheques.

He says he wants people to know about life inside the Lighthouse, to let people know that the people living alongside him are real people – not just homeless strangers asking for change. In the last year, he says, he has developed a special affinity for the homeless people who are taken to the social detox centre at the Lighthouse, people who are often too intoxicated to go anywhere else.

“I’m pretty popular with most of the guys, because I’m like that. You need clean socks? Come talk to me, I’ll get you some clean socks,” Ristow said.

When he isn’t working he spends time in a small room watching cable news. It’s hard, he says, not to think about Reinhardt.

“It comes on strong every once in a while and I have myself a good cry,” he said.

Allgood’s lawyers are appealing his first-degree murder conviction. Allgood was only arrested after he confessed to the shooting, to an undercover police officer at the end of a four-month operation that included police faking an execution-style shooting in Yukon.

After Allgood’s conviction in January, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the police technique, known as the ‘Mr. Big’ sting tactic, was unreliable. That ruling will be central to the appeal.

Bueckert, who continues to work closely with Ristow, says he still has a ways to go.

Eventually, he would like to see Ristow get his own home and a steady job.

“What I would like to see is David in his own house somewhere. Settled and stable and then coming back and telling us how it’s going. That’s my dream,” Bueckert said.

Ristow is hopeful for the same things himself. While he continues to struggle with alcohol, he hopes one day he will be sober enough to get a job working at the Lighthouse, helping others.

“I’d really like to get a job here,” he said.

Support from BATC Community Development Corporation announced for Lighthouse Supported Living Emergency Shelter to open in North Battleford

The BATC Community Development Corporation (BATC CDC) announced today a grant of $275,000 to the Lighthouse Supported Living for the development of a new emergency shelter in North Battleford. A cheque presentation today at 11 am welcomed the Lighthouse to the Battlefords.

Left to Right: Yourself, Chief Lori Whitecalf of Sweetgrass First Nation, Mayor Ian Hamilton, Chief Dan Starchief of Mosquito First Nation, Don, Kelly Atcheynum - General Manager, Gold Eagle Casino, Oscar Gopher - Councillor for Saulteaux First Nation. Please have Chief Ben Weenie acknowledged for his prayers. (Chief Whitecalf, Chief Starchief, and Councillor Gopher are members of the BATC CDC Board of Directors. Thank you, Vivian

Left to Right: DeeAnn Mercier – Lighthouse Communications Directior, Chief Lori Whitecalf of Sweetgrass First Nation, Mayor Ian Hamilton, Chief Dan Starchief of Mosquito First Nation, Don Windels – Lighthouse Executive Director, Kelly Atcheynum – General Manager, Gold Eagle Casino, Oscar Gopher – Councillor for Saulteaux First Nation. Thank you to Chief Ben Weenie for his prayers. (Chief Whitecalf, Chief Starchief, and Councillor Gopher are members of the BATC CDC Board of Directors.)

The Lighthouse will be providing emergency shelter for those experiencing homelessness, 3 meals a day for those who are staying there, and programming and support to help individuals find and retain housing in the Battlefords.FullSizeRender

“When a group from the Battlefords approached the Lighthouse to inquire what steps were needed to secure a 24-hour emergency shelter, it seemed like a natural fit for the Lighthouse to be the organization that lead the project,” Executive Director of the Lighthouse Supported Living, Don Windels said. “Our work in Saskatoon running an emergency shelter and Stabilization Unit has prepared us for some of the issues we know individuals are experiencing in the Battlefords.”

“BATC CDC is pleased to a part of an initiative that meets our vision of supporting the development of healthy communities,” Chairperson of BATC CDC, Neil Sasakamoose said.  “The Lighthouse will provide a safe and warm environment at any hour, on any given day, especially in our winter months.”

“To have a facility that will provide support and resources to the people of our First Nations, the Battlefords and surrounding communities, will only be a benefit,” said Chief Lori Whitecalf of Sweetgrass First Nation. Chief Whitecalf is a Board of Director with BATC CDC and is also the Tribal Chair for Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs.

The Lighthouse has already purchased a property in downtown North Battleford for use as a shelter but the building requires extensive upgrades including a proper fire suppression system. The shelter expects to open its doors to those who are homeless or struggle to find a safe place to live in November. The grand opening of the Lighthouse Supported Living Emergency Shelter in North Battleford will be announced at a later date.


A men’s and women’s dorm as well as a separate area for those who are intoxicated will be in the facility, as well as rooms for families. Admission to the shelter will be denied to highly intoxicated and/or violent individuals who may pose a threat to themselves or others. In those cases, the police will be called.

The Lighthouse currently operates an emergency shelter for men and women, supported living suites, and independent affordable housing suites in Saskatoon. Additionally, the Lighthouse opened a Stabilization Unit last summer for those who are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs to provide a safe, supervised place to sleep.

About BATC Community Development Corporation:

BATC Community Development Corporation (BATC CDC) is responsible for distributing a portion of the Gold Eagle Casino profits by providing financial support to non-profit and charitable organizations. Our area of support includes the Battlefords and surrounding communities, the First Nations within Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs and Battlefords Tribal Council, and several independent First Nations. BATC CDC continually meets its vision of supporting the development the healthy communities, by implementing the core value, “improving the quality of life”.

To see pictures from the announcement click here. To donate towards the Battlefords Emergency Shelter click here.

For more information, contact:


DeeAnn Mercier

The Lighthouse Supported Living Inc.




Vivian Whitecalf, General Manager

BATC Community Development Corporation




SPDAT Training

Today organizations who work with those experiencing homelessness are at the Lighthouse to learn from Ian De Jong from OrgCode about using SPDAT.
SPDAT is a Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool. The goal is that through this assessment individuals will spend less time in emergency shelters, be provided more individualized care, and we will be able to collect better data. Better data will allow all of us to know where the greatest needs are in our community.

photo (2)
Thank you to the United Way for bring this to Saskatoon so that organizations can have a common language to discuss the needs of those we serve.