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More than a Building: An Empirical Study of Supportive Housing Services for Older Persons with Mental Illness Presenters: Debra Walko, RSW Program Director,

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Presentation on theme: "More than a Building: An Empirical Study of Supportive Housing Services for Older Persons with Mental Illness Presenters: Debra Walko, RSW Program Director,"— Presentation transcript:

1 More than a Building: An Empirical Study of Supportive Housing Services for Older Persons with Mental Illness Presenters: Debra Walko, RSW Program Director, College View Supportive Housing Services LOFT Community Services Maria Egervari Program Director, Dunn Avenue Supportive Housing Services LOFT Community Services

2 Overview of Presentation Description of LOFT Community Services Supportive Housing Services for Older Persons Results of an empirical study that examined the impact of this model of supportive housing

3 Disclosure There is no conflict of interest that may have a direct bearing on the subject matter of this presentation.There is no conflict of interest that may have a direct bearing on the subject matter of this presentation.

4 Background Adequate housing is an integral component of the well-being of all individuals A stable home is an important prerequisite in the mental health treatment and recovery process A significant number of older adults have a serious mental illness which is not a form of dementia related to their age Few community care plans consider the special needs of this group or how they might be provided with suitable housing

5 LOFT Community Services (Leap of Faith Together) A non-profit community service organization which offers a system of integrated permanent housing, housing support, community case management and community outreach to vulnerable individuals (youth, adults and older persons) in the Greater Toronto area. LOFT Community Services offers services to over 3,500 vulnerable and homeless people at more than 50 sites. The majority of these individuals have mental health, substance misuse and homelessness challenges.

6 LOFT’s Seniors’ Programs & Services Our Goal: To provide support with the activities of daily living and to help residents connect with community resources and one another, enabling them to maintain their independence and age in place. Our Programs: We have 5 models of supportive housing for older adults and seniors in downtown Toronto: College View Supportive Housing Services & Dunn Avenue Supportive Housing Services support over 100 residents in 2 Toronto Community Housing Corporation buildings. St. Anne’s Place, John Gibson House and Simon Apartments support over 175 residents in a congregate setting and apartment buildings owned and operated by LOFT Community Services.

7 Our Residents are culturally diverse older adults and seniors living with issues such as serious mental illness, addictions, major physical health concerns, severe social isolation, poverty, and homelessness. At each location we provide 24 hour on site services which include :  Personal Care -  Ethno Cultural Services  Medication Reminders -  Dining Services  Meal Preparation -  Crisis Intervention  Emergency Response -  Affordable Housing  Escorts to Appointments  Care Giver Relief  Essential Housekeeping  Laundry  Social/Recreational Activities Our Residents

8 Sam’s Story Sam’s life story did not start out on a happy note. People labeled him as ‘retarded’ during his early formative years. His parents put him in a special school where he always felt that he was different, ‘not normal’. His education was extremely limited. Although he felt no different from anyone else, he was treated by others as though there was something wrong. As he entered early adulthood, difficulties in getting along with others resulted in placement in a group home. Residing in the group home only made matters worse, and Sam did not perceive the setting to help in any way. As soon as he was old enough, he moved out of the group home to live independently, however, did not possess the requisite skills to cope on his own. In addition, he had no one to turn to for assistance.

9 His adult years have been characterized by him as “a struggle for survival”. Alcohol was his constant companion. He attempted suicide and engaged in self-harmful activities on several occasions. In terms of housing, he moved in and out of a series of rooming houses and ended up on the streets on multiple occasions. He also spent some time incarcerated. This period was characterized by “a great sense of hopelessness and despair”. He felt that he could not escape from this lifestyle. Upon his release from jail, he was taken to a psychiatric hospital where staff referred him to the supportive housing program. He was extremely hesitant to move to this housing and finally consented to a room. He had a difficult time adjusting to life in the housing project, and admits that he gave staff a “run for their money”. He was surprised that the staff were not frightened of him and did not get angry at him. Over time, he saw that the staff actually cared about him and were willing to support him through his struggles.

10 Now in his late sixties, he has lived in supportive housing at LOFT for the past six years and acknowledges that it has made a big difference in his life. He stated that, for the very first time, “I actually feel I have a home”. He feels that the other residents and staff really care about him—he is accepted for who he is and not treated differently. He experiences respect from others in his environment, something he has never before felt. Family members, who would previously have nothing to do with him, are now in his life again. In his words, “This is the best place I have ever lived and I never want to leave!”

11 Purpose of the Research To examine the provision of a model of supportive housing services for older adults with mental illness (‘hard core’ clientele)OBJECTIVES To describe the client experience of the program/housing To document the effect of the housing on clients lives (well-being, access to services, support networks, income security) To describe the staff experience of the program To document community stakeholder perspectives on supportive housing & their experience of the program

12 Conceptual Framework Determinants of Health Perspective The ways in which the health and\or mental health of older persons is affected by individual, community and societal factors Health – determined by complex interactions between social and economic factors, the physical environment and individual behaviour

13 Methods Triangulation of qualitative methodsTriangulation of qualitative methods Maximum variation sampling used to conduct in-depth semi- structured interviews with:Maximum variation sampling used to conduct in-depth semi- structured interviews with: 35 older adults with mental illness living in LOFT supportive housing35 older adults with mental illness living in LOFT supportive housing 20 community stakeholders 20 community stakeholders 7 LOFT staff members 7 LOFT staff members 5 family members 5 family members

14 Methods (cont.) Methodological RigorMethodological Rigor Research practice rigorResearch practice rigor Analytic rigorAnalytic rigor Procedural rigor (prolonged engagement, triangulation, saturation, audit trail, reflexive journals, peer review)Procedural rigor (prolonged engagement, triangulation, saturation, audit trail, reflexive journals, peer review)

15 Overview of Results Older Persons Interviewed: 16 men 19 women years (mean age=64 years) 60% had a primary diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder Long history of previous psychiatric hospitalizations and interaction with the mental health system

16 Overview of Results Results indicated that the model of supportive housing examined demonstrated a value based approach to housing essential to best practice, characterized by: º choice and control – often for the first time in their lives, is the chance to make decisions regarding what to do and when º flexibility – programs are adapted to the unique needs of each individual º meaningful activity – the opportunity for individuals to participate in their community with a wide variety of options, and freedom to make decisions º access to support of many types and linkages with multiple community services and supports – which resulted in a sense of stability º community integration - older persons living in supportive housing participate in their community – through regular formal functions within the housing, as members of the broader community (e.g. volunteer activities, church attendance, picnics)

17 Overview of Results A systematic review of the literature indicated that supportive housing is cost effective. The evidence from both United States and Canada demonstrates cost savings when compared to psychiatric hospitalization, long term care settings, and hostels.

18 Overview of Results Data from this study support these findings by indicating that, in addition to personal level benefits outlined above, supportive housing resulted in cost savings to the larger system in terms of reduced 911 calls, reduced emergency room visits, and reduced hospitalizations (both for physical and mental health reasons).

19 Results Interviews with Older PersonsInterviews with Older Persons Taking Care of BusinessTaking Care of Business Better than BeforeBetter than Before FreedomFreedom Meaningful ActivityMeaningful Activity Support (formal and informal)Support (formal and informal) Sense of CommunitySense of Community

20 Results Interviews with Older Persons Being made to feel at home as much as possible and also having as much freedom as I could wish for…you can come and go as you please. This house has given me back the freedom I lost. We have a lot of - what do you call it – community. This house has given me back the freedom I lost, you know, and respect for people outside of myself…there’s so much to be grateful for, you see, no one human being can overcome their difficulties all by themselves. And, I learned that here and accepted the help graciously.

21 Interviews with Older Persons (cont.) If it was for [SH], I wouldn’t even get dressed. I told my friend if I won the million dollars, I don’t want to move from here. I like it because I have all my friends. If I go somewhere else, I’d be lost. Before [SH], I can’t remember what we did. We were just sitting, vegetating watching TV. But this housing had made a whole lot of difference in my life. Now, there’s always something going on. I have a job here and it has helped me with finding my self respect again and having a little bit more confidence in myself.

22 Results Interviews with Family MembersInterviews with Family Members No Guilt - “peace of mind”No Guilt - “peace of mind” Reduced Caregiving BurdenReduced Caregiving Burden Quality TimeQuality Time Giving BackGiving Back

23 Results Interviews with Family Members You know that she’s being taken care of. The staff members are wonderful, genuine care. They even ask how things are going for me. It’s a relief to know she doesn’t have to move…I have peace of mind. Whatever I can do to help. I want to give back. Write a letter? Whatever.

24 Results Interviews with Key StakeholdersInterviews with Key Stakeholders Team WorkTeam Work An Example of Best PracticeAn Example of Best Practice ‘Hardcore’ Clientele‘Hardcore’ Clientele A House becomes a HomeA House becomes a Home Stigma ReductionStigma Reduction System Level ChallengesSystem Level Challenges

25 Results Interviews with Key Stakeholders A familyatmosphere with a human touch has been created. A family atmosphere with a human touch has been created. LOFT is doing what they should be – seen as one of the hallmarks of performance. Potential problems are recognized before an incident occurs.

26 Interviews with Key Stakeholders (cont.) System Level ChallengesSystem Level Challenges FundingFunding Long Wait ListsLong Wait Lists Staff TrainingStaff Training Advocacy for Older PersonsAdvocacy for Older Persons

27 Results Interviews with LOFT Staff MembersInterviews with LOFT Staff Members A Place to call Home – the milieuA Place to call Home – the milieu The Development of Trust – a relationship “it takes time”The Development of Trust – a relationship “it takes time” Making Choices – even if consequences negativeMaking Choices – even if consequences negative Creating Meaningful ActivityCreating Meaningful Activity The Illness gets in the WayThe Illness gets in the Way

28 Results Interviews with LOFT Staff Members We go the second, third, fourth and fifth mile. We give them the opportunity because sometimes if the first offence, they’re asked to leave, we wouldn’t have anyone here. We really try to bend over backwards. We all try to find something about them that we can build on. Even just sitting down to talk for a few minutes to them or do something physically, like do their hair…they’re not all by themselves and somebody’s taking an interest and get them to participate in some of the activities.

29 Conclusions This model of supported housing has achieved a value-based approach to housing and supports Values of consumer choice and control, access to valued resources, meaningful activity and integration are integral factors in how residents view their quality of life and live within their community.

30 Acknowledgements The willingness of the research participants to engage in this study and give so generously of their time is gratefully acknowledged. This study was supported by funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

31 Contact Information Katherine Boydell, PhD Senior Scientist, Child Health Evaluative Sciences Associate Professor, Departments of Psychiatry & Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto Debra Walko, RSW Program Director, College View Supportive Housing Services LOFT Community Services x23 Maria Egervari Program Director, Dunn Avenue Supportive Housing Services LOFT Community Services x224


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