by Victoria Brewster, MSW – SJS Staff Writer in Montreal, Canada
Family, the word has many definitions depending on who is defining it. Family can be parents and children, husband and wife, extended family members of cousins, aunts and uncles and then there are friends.
Family, in a helping professional sense can take on another meaning as well. Here in the Montreal area, as I am sure takes place in other cities as well, adults with diagnosed mental health issues are being released from the psychiatric hospital setting into a ‘home like’ setting. Previously, some might have been discharged to a group home, rooming house or a shelter and now some are living at L’Abri en Ville.
In 1991, L’Abri en Ville was created from an Inter-church Social Service Planning Committee and the result two years later was a rehabilitative environment.
Currently, there are thirty apartments, an office, and a small staff. Donors and sponsors include foundations, individuals, the Quebec government, businesses and faith communities.
L’Abri en Ville allows for independence in sharing an apartment with others where there are shared household chores, outside activities, group trips and outings.
In October of this year, the Canada Mental Health Commission named L’Abri en Ville the National Mental Health Award winner for Community Capacity category.
Staff visits regularly and when a potential resident applies, there is a long interview process to determine a good fit for all; the applying resident and for those already living in the apartment.
There are house rules; cleanliness, personal hygiene, being involved in the community somehow as a volunteer or working. Each resident pays their share of the rent and utilities, take prescribed medications and no alcohol allowed due to medications as often alcohol and medications do not mix and because of possible addiction issues.
Other communities in the Montreal area have similar models. This is the ‘village’ model with a twist.
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