Riverside Health Care adds same day addictions support services

Natali Trivuncic
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have not only let businesses and workplaces in disarray, but it has also been taxing on the mental health of the public.

In January, Riverside Health Care announced the addition of the same-day addiction support services for adults struggling and seeking support for substance use. The new service is an addition to the same-day mental health support services.

“As a community, we have seen increased overdoses and substance use concerns and Riverside is hopeful that this same day service will be a step forward in building healthy relationships with some of our most vulnerable substance using populations,” Lisa Belluz, manager of mental health and addictions at Riverside Health Care said in an email. 
This new service will allow for same-day scheduled appointments for individuals looking for support in recovery from addictions or wondering where to get help can call and speak to the recovery support counsellor without needing a pre-existing appointment. As well, you do not have to be a current client or commit to ongoing counselling. These appointments are confidential and do not require a referral.

“It is possible for the client to already be enrolled with a counsellor and still access the same day substance recovery and support; the client may need help now in the recovery process when their primary therapist is not available,” Belluz,said.

Belluz said calling in to the service could be for a variety of reasons such as support for a really difficult day, harm reduction strategies, information about other services that may be of assistance, substance abuse education, or a referral to a more structured assessment or therapeutic service.

At this time, appointments are being offered by phone or video but efforts are presently being explored to offer an alternative for people who do not have access to a phone or internet.

Belluz said it has been more complex to provide addictions services throughout the pandemic with the limited availability for face-to-face services. She adds that at times, it is difficult for some residents in the district that experience substance use issues, to keep scheduled appointments and because therapists are scheduled, they are not always available for same day requests for support.

The support services counsellor only known as Tom, has begun a mobile walk-about service where he is looking for people who may be working through addiction issues while in the community.

Belluz said they are hoping that Tom becomes a familiar face and a known resource in order for those struggling with substance use to feel comfortable enough to approach him for help. This is in addition to the same-day appointments in an effort to meet the identified challenges of recovery support as presently, there is a longer than usual waitlist for treatment.

“We have seen an increase of demand for mental health and addictions counselling over the last several months, requiring us to implement a wait list for our mental health programs,” Belluz said. “Same-day appointments have provided opportunity for individuals waiting for mental health and addictions service to access a single, solution focused session while the client waits to be assigned to a therapist.”

Belluz said it is their goal to continue to offer same-day recovery support services on an ongoing basis, even post-pandemic.

“We are hoping to enhance the service with an option of in-person visits for the scheduled days once restrictions from Covid-19 are lifted,” Belluz said. “The same-day services will be monitored and improved or changed as needed, as we strive to search for new and creative ways to meet unmet needs in the community.”
For more information on same day addictions recovery support programming, please call 274-4807, press 1 and ask for Tom.