Alex smiles in his usual cheerful way as he walks out the front door of the Dr. Peter Centre on the way to his studio apartment nearby. He has already connected with the nurses, taken his medication and had breakfast with other day health program participants. He'll be back for lunch and the day’s activities. Alex needs daily care and support to manage the complexities of his health, which includes HIV, hepatitis C and cancer.
When the day health program closes for the day, he’ll have dinner in the Centre’s specialized nursing care residence, where he lived for over two and a half years. He can call the residence nurses at night; the Centre’s housekeeping staff drop by during the week to help him with maintaining his apartment. It’s all part of his care plan – a plan made possible because the day health program is now open seven days a week. “For me, nothing could have been better,” says Alex, one of two individuals who have moved out of the residence into enhanced supportive housing operated by the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation. “It’s given me the freedom to think about where I want to go next in my life, but also the right support to pursue that next step.”
Says Maxine Davis, the Foundation’s Executive Director: “Enhanced supportive housing is a way to improve health care utilization. Individuals can move more promptly and successfully out of the Dr. Peter Residence, making room for individuals who would otherwise occupy acute hospital beds. The residence is at least five times less costly than a hospital bed and enhanced supportive housing is at least three times less costly than the residence. Most importantly, it makes a real impact on quality of life.” “Collaboration with Vancouver Coastal Health, Providence Health Care, and Mole Hill Community Housing Society to operationalize enhanced supportive housing is a great example of the value added when a cluster of partners work together to improve both effectiveness and efficiency. I’m hoping we can do more of it.
The Foundation’s Director of Operations, Rosalind Baltzer Turje, agrees: “It’s a hybrid model that is customized to the needs of the individual. Clients receive the amount of support that is right for them. They also have an opportunity for greater independence and self-management too, which can be crucial to create a sense of ownership over one’s own health care.”
“It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time in my life,” says Alex. “It’s given me the chance to say to myself: ‘I have a chance to live a long life – how do I want to live that life?’ For me, nothing could have been better right now.”