Tag Archives: Stabilization Shelter

Lighthouse Stabilization and Wellness Centre Officially Opens in Saskatoon

Released on November 20, 2015

An innovative wellness center at The Lighthouse Supported Living (Lighthouse) officially opened today in Saskatoon.  The shelter will provide an alternative for manageably intoxicated individuals who are unable to access other shelter services.Part of the funding is also being used to renovate 59 existing units in the Dubé Lighthouse that provides housing for close to 70 individuals.   The Lighthouse Supported Living Inc. operates the Dubé Lighthouse facility.

The total cost of this project is $4 million.  Funding of $1.5 million from the government was provided by the Ministry of Health ($1 million), the Ministry of Justice ($250,000), and the Ministry of Social Services through the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation ($250,000).  The City of Saskatoon contributed $126,000 toward the project and additional funding was provided through the Homelessness Partnering Strategy and other fundraising.

IMG_0163“Our government is proud to work with Lighthouse to help vulnerable citizens in this community have improved access to a safe place to live with supports in place if required,” Social Services Minister and Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Housing Corporation Donna Harpauer said.  “This aligns with a number of priorities outlined in our Provincial Housing Strategy, which includes supporting individuals and families in greatest housing need.  These two initiatives are examples of that vision in action.”

“We are pleased to see the completion of the Lighthouse Stabilization and Wellness Centre project in Saskatoon,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said.  “We are proud to support our community partners like Lighthouse, who are reaching out into communities to help people improve and maintain their health and wellbeing.   This project also supports the recommendations in the Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan, specifically ensuring that individuals with addictions issues have access to timely and appropriate care.”

IMG_0168“Our ministry is proud to partner in upgrading this valuable community facility,” Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell said.  “We know how important it is that places like the Dubé Lighthouse exist to provide shelter and housing for vulnerable individuals who require extra support.”

“We are grateful to the many community members who came together to volunteer and donate toward the ‘Up’ Capital Campaign, Les and Irene Dubé who led with an amazing gift of $1 million, and the Provincial Government for seeing the value in this project,” Lighthouse Executive Director Don Windels said.  “We are thankful the expanded Stabilization Unit will be operational before this winter so we can continue to provide emergency shelter to those in need in our community.”

The project features a stabilization shelter with approximately 38 beds for individuals who are manageably intoxicated.   The second floor provides programming and office space, and the third floor features a wellness center with exercise facilities and atrium.

IMG_0166Since November 2007, 167 affordable rental units have been completed by the province for those considered ‘hard to house’ and facing multiple challenges such as disabilities and addictions in Saskatoon.  Including the Lighthouse, an additional 40 units are currently under construction.

The Lighthouse provides housing for approximately 230 individuals on any given day.   It provides 126 permanent housing units and about 94 emergency shelter spaces for vulnerable individuals, including the working poor, people with physical or intellectual disabilities, and people with addictions.

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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: www.lighthousesaskatoon.org.

Learn more about the Region’s 14-Day Challenge: www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/news.

Action Accord Media Release highlights Lighthouse success

photo 2 (21)Today the Action Accord held a press conference at the Lighthouse to release data showing that holding intoxicated individuals in city cells has gone down since the Lighthouse Stabilization Unit opened and individuals are increasingly being housing in the most appropriate facilities.

Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill said, “The Saskatoon Police Service is very pleased to see this dramatic shift toward the increased use of appropriate facilities such as the BDU and the Lighthouse. The traditional use of police service calls was one of necessity, not one of choice. The addition of the Lighthouse Emergency Shelter in 2013 provided the capacity we needed to better enable us to provide emergency shelter to people with dignity and access to ‘next day’ services.”

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To read the full report click the link: Action Accord Media Release June 10 2014.

Stories from Stabilization Case Workers

‘Matthew’ stayed in the Stabilization Unit for the first time this summer, after getting sick of sleeping on a park bench.  Completely demoralized by the downward tailspin his life was in, Matthew was contemplating ending it all. After spending a couple of nights in the Stabilization unit, he shared his struggles with a case worker, Whitney, who encouraged him to maintain his sobriety and stay in our regular emergency shelter dorm. Matthew found hope and a reason to “quit the bottle”.


When an apartment opened up at the Lighthouse, staff offered him his own place. He stayed for a short while, found a job, and then moved to be closer to his new place of work. He still comes back once a month to check in with Whitney and continues to discuss with her what he has control over in his life and what he doesn’t. He is also attending groups in the community and trying to make new friends.

In February the Stabilization Unit helped 33 different people, with a total of 538 stays. On average there are 18 men and women, with some nights as many as 25 intoxicated individuals  looking for a safe place to sleep.


While the Stabilization Unit only has 20 beds, the Lighthouse has been trying to manage the amount of people hoping to stay here. Some individuals come and go through out the night, using multiple beds. With the extreme cold in February, for some individuals extra mats were placed near the front desk so that everyone had a safe, warm place to stay, regardless of their sobriety.

More recently, another staff member, Cameron has been connecting with ‘Leo’, a gentleman who had been staying in the Stabilization Unit since January. Cameron encouraged him to stay sober, and Leo was able to stay in the Lighthouse’s emergency dorm for two weeks. Unfortunately Leo fell off the wagon, ended up back in the Stabilization Unit and was talking about “giving up”.

Cameron was able to share with him some of the opportunities and services that could help Leo with his addiction. The next day Leo decided to go to a Detox facility in Wakamow. Cameron was able to help him coordinate transportation and placement, so that Leo could begin life with a fresh start.

There are many stories our staff share with us, conversations which lead to questions, solutions and life changes. The Lighthouse Stabilization Unit is a chance for caring staff to meet some of the most disaffected and transient members of our community. By forming relationships with them, they are able to help support changes in their lives.



A glimpse at Saskatoon’s first shelter for drunk people

A glimpse at Saskatoon's first shelter for drunk people

One of the beds is in use at the Lighthouse.

Photograph by: Gord Waldner, The Starphoenix , The Starphoenix

The sun is still up, and Geoff is already so drunk he can barely stand.

Somehow, he’s found his way to Lighthouse Supported Living’s stabilization unit, a place where he can sleep it off. Geoff, who is homeless, has come here every evening for weeks now. It’s the only shelter in the city that will accept him when he’s drunk.

“I’m worse than I usually am. I’m bad,” he says, as he steadies himself on a chair at the front of the room. Behind him, 20 beds are lined up in rows. By midnight, they will likely be filled.

Before this place opened in July, men and women who were drunk or high were often taken to city police detention cells, emergency rooms or the health region’s Brief and Social Detox Unit. In October alone, the new Lighthouse unit drew more than 400 visits.

Police say they’ve seen a 30 per cent reduction in the number of intoxicated arrests coming into their detention unit since the Lighthouse beds opened.

Now, the Lighthouse unit has extended its hours to meet the growing demand.

“I just drink because, for myself, there is no alternative,” Geoff says.

Geoff is interviewed by Liz Wymer, one of two workers who staff the Lighthouse’s 4 p.m. to midnight shift. The staff members are there to make sure he doesn’t need medical attention, that he is not suicidal, and that he will survive the night. As long as they can wake up and go to the bathroom on their own, clients are usually cleared to stay.

On this particular evening, another worker, Sam Tait, calls the mobile crisis unit because Geoff makes a comment about suicide during his interview. A crisis worker will visit Geoff before the evening is over. Until then, Tait and Wymer will keep a special eye on him.

“We’re glad you made it here,” Wymer tells him before Geoff takes off his sweater, shoes and socks and puts them in a bin. His sweater is covered with dirt from slipping on the ice outside. The workers will wash his clothes while he sleeps it off.

The unit is open daily from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m., but workers and others who deal with the intoxicated people daily say it would be used if it was open even longer.

“The level of intoxication has really built up from the hours of 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.,” Lesley Prefontaine, who is in charge of the city’s new community support officers, told a meeting earlier this week. The CSOs, who patrol the downtown, Riversdale and Broadway areas, regularly encounter drunk or passed out people.

The old protocol was to take them to the health region’s detox unit or call police. Since the Lighthouse beds opened, Prefontaine and her team have been referring people there instead.

The new extended hours are the direct result of demand for shelter beds that can accept intoxicated people.

“It was used 404 times in October, which is just an unbelievable amount,” said Dee-Ann Mercier, spokeswoman for the shelter. “It’s something that is actually going to save people’s lives.”

The federal government’s Homeless Partnering Strategy program gave the stabilization shelter more than $200,000 for its first year of operations and $198,848 to renovate a permanent space.

The Saskatoon Health Region and the Saskatoon Police Service are also providing some financial support, but Mercier said most of the funding is limited to a oneyear pilot project.

It would be better to keep the Lighthouse unit open 24 hours a day, but it needs permanent funding, she said. “Police are responding to these calls all day, not just at night … There is a big cost to having in 24-hour facility, but it would be worth it.”

Back at the unit, Sam Tait explains that the beds are more than a safe place for drunk people to sleep.

“More than these beds, these guys need compassion,” he says.

“We try to develop a relationship with them over time, so that if you catch them in the right moment, you can get through to them.”

By suppertime, Geoff is ready for a long night’s sleep. He slips into the donated clothes the shelter provides and finds his favourite bed.

“I just went over the edge this afternoon. I just need a place to stabilize. As soon as I stabilize myself, I’ll be better,” he says.

cthamilton@thestarphoenix.com Twitter.com/_chamilton

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