The Province will open a first-of-its-kind clinic in Atlantic Canada to help reduce visits to emergency departments and walk-in clinics and decrease the length of hospital stays by people experiencing homelessness.
“When patients are well enough to be released from the hospital, they often need some extra recovery time at home or with a loved one. Until now, people who are homeless have not had this option and have had to remain in hospital,” said Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson. “This new model will ensure that some of our most vulnerable Nova Scotians get the care they need in a place better equipped to serve their needs.”
The unique clinic is a collaborative effort across the departments of Health and Wellness; Community Services; Labor, Skills and Immigration; and Seniors and Long-Term Care, as well as the Office of Addictions and Mental Health and Nova Scotia Health. It will open in a former hotel on Wyse Road near downtown Dartmouth.
The building will continue to operate as a shelter, with additional on-site clinic access for residents. The clinic will serve clients of the shelter, as well as community members referred for nursing care by Nova Scotia Health.
In addition to the clinic, which will be open seven days a week, there is an on-site support team – including a wellness co-ordinator, continuing-care co-ordinator, community outreach worker and other healthcare professionals – to provide wraparound supports for residents and prepare them for independent living.
This new clinic, in combination with the shelter supports, provides a much more robust system to support people who are experiencing homelessness and have nowhere else to go but emergency rooms or occupy a hospital bed for longer than necessary. Previously, there was no transitional option for them.
“People in our community need help now,” said Karla MacFarlane, Minister of Community Services. “The government is working together to innovate and think outside the box to ensure the right supports are there to help people experiencing homelessness as we work to transition them into permanent housing.”
When people experiencing homelessness do go to an emergency department or stay in hospital, specialized discharge teams and emergency department staff will identify patients who could be supported at the new facility with short-term continuing care.
Non-healthcare referrals to the shelter will be done by Welcome Housing and Adsum for Women and Children, the service providers that currently operate the Shelter Diversion Support program. People access this support through a local number that is monitored 24/7.
All current hotel staff have been offered alternate employment opportunities, with most staff members either remaining on-site or reassigned within the company that owns the hotel. The Department of Labor, Skills and Immigration will be providing a targeted employment support response to ensure a smooth transition for staff.
The Province is investing almost $14 million in the project – $10 million for the lease and $3.85 million for services.
We are pleased to be a partner in this exciting initiative. Direct and timely access to health services is a barrier that many of our unhoused neighbors experience that can directly impact their ability to secure safe, affordable housing. While we continue to work towards developing long-term affordable housing solutions, these partnerships are a significant step forward for our city and province and will have a far-reaching impact for those in the most need.
Laura MacKay, Executive Directors, Welcome Housing
Hundreds of our neighbors are experiencing homelessness and, with full shelter, staying in unsafe conditions. While we continue our work to find permanent solutions to the housing crisis, we’re pleased to be collaborating with the Province to bring more unhoused people out of the elements. We’re eager to be part of this new shelter model that will also expand access to healthcare to some of the most marginalized members of our community.
Sheri Lecker, Executive Directors, Adsum for Women and Children
- the contract with the former hotel runs from May 1 to March 24, 2024
- Community Services is providing about $2.5 million for operational funding; Health and Wellness is providing $1 million in funding for the clinic; Seniors and Long-Term Care is providing $350,000 for nursing and home support staff
- the project is an extension of the Shelter Diversion Support program
- 902 Man Up continues to play a key role in supporting any clients currently living at this location and will provide support until the building transitions to the new model
- the Province currently rents rooms in hotels across Nova Scotia, including at the Wyse Road location