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A place for healing ... and hope

December 27, 2012

Red Deer facility guides mental health patients back into society

Story and photo by Adam Eisenbarth

The obstacles to independence can seem enormous for many who suffer from a mental illness, such as schizophrenia and mood disorders.

A partnership between Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta is helping people navigate these challenges and build an improved quality of life.

Annette Carney, a resident at Kentwood Place, has been encouraged to rediscover her love of painting while residing at the facilty.Set in a quiet residential area in Red Deer, Kentwood Place has been operating since May 2007. In this home-like facility, individuals are working to develop the life skills for independence and strengthen their social support network.

“I love to paint. It gives me an escape and keeps me busy,” says resident Annette Carney. “The staff have set up a quiet spot here in the garage where I can do my artwork, so I just turn on my radio and go to work.”

The path to self-recovery can take months, or sometimes years, and it’s encouraging to see people working on goals that enhance their quality of life, says AHS Care Manager Terry Zibin.

“Without Kentwood Place, patients would typically go through a difficult cycle in which they are discharged from hospital, only to re-enter shortly after without significant improvements,” he says.

“We’ve been quite successful in breaking this cycle and giving individuals the opportunity to comfortably and effectively reintegrate into the community.”

A big part of this success has been a defined goal-making strategy, in which residents must make monthly goals to help overcome their personal obstacles to independent life.

“This isn’t simply a residence for them to stay in. They’re expected to put in the work they need to do so they can develop the life skills they need,” says Zibin.

Equipped with a gym, two kitchens, pianos, sports equipment, video games and more, Kentwood Place is designed to spark individual interests and passions. A nearby bus stop provides easy access to the community.

Staff from AHS and the Schizophrenia Society provide psychosocial rehabilitation services (on-site 24/7) from a collaborative perspective. The Schizophrenia Society covers rent, and acts as the landlord for the facility.