After years of consultation, Vancouver Coastal Health is moving forward on revamping the services offered to people living on the Downtown Eastside as part of their Second Generation Strategy.
The health of the people living in the poverty-stricken neighbourhood has improved dramatically over the last 15 years, but with that comes new challenges. People are living longer and with multiple chronic diseases and mental health and addiction issues.
Some of the changes to services include:
- Formulating a new drop-in model that will allow people with addiction and mental-health issues to connect to services easier
- Creating services that require fewer obstacles to access addictions treatment
- Creating a program that employs people with lived experience in the Downtown Eastside to help others access services and supports
- New early morning hours for Insite when demand is highest
- A new shelter pilot program to ease transitions from acute care
“Change is never easy, but we know it’s desperately needed in the Downtown Eastside,” says Health Minister Terry Lake in a statement.
“Many residents increasingly struggle with chronic conditions and changing addiction issues, but a lack of integration between health services creates barriers to accessing treatment. I applaud Vancouver Coastal Health for making the changes needed to improve patient care in this neighbourhood.”
While these changes are currently in the works, Vancouver Coastal Health was not allocated additional funding by the provincial government to cover the costs – as such, certain services won’t be renewed to allow these changes to take place within the $55 million budget.
“These improvements are long overdue and will ensure that resources are used more effectively in the Downtown Eastside,” said Vancouver city councillor Kerry Jang.
“There is strong support throughout the community to move forward and address the priorities identified by the Downtown Eastside Second Generation Strategy consultation and planning process.”
The changes will likely come into effect in 2016 as Vancouver Coastal Health searches for partners to help provide some of the services.
The strategy comes as other changes pop up in the neighbourhood. Recently, a facility on the Downtown Eastside at Powell and Gore Streets that used to house prisoners awaiting trial was converted into affordable housing for low-income adults and at-risk Aboriginal youth.
The facility had sat unused since 2002 until 2011 when it was determined it would be converted into housing units.