Supportive-housing facility for indigenous Edmontonians sharply reduces health costs: report

Click to play video: 'Where should Edmonton have supportive housing?'
Where should Edmonton have supportive housing?
WATCH ABOVE: On March 2, 2017, Vinesh Pratap filed this report about where supportive housing in Edmonton should be located – Mar 2, 2017

A little over two years after a 42-unit affordable housing facility opened for Edmonton’s “hardest to house” indigenous civilians, a new report suggests it is succeeding in its goal of reducing hospital stays and calls for service.

On Friday, Alberta Health Services released a report looking at the impact Ambrose Place – which opened in November 2014 – has had on the health of indigenous Edmontonians living there who previously hadn’t been successfully housed.

WATCH: A look inside Ambrose Place

AHS compared data on health care use for residents 24 months before moving to Ambrose Place and the 24 months after. However, AHS said because residents moved in at different times after the facility’s opening, their health service usage numbers were calculated per client.

Among the report’s findings were that inpatient hospital admissions of Ambrose Place residents dropped by 58 per cent, an 81 per cent drop in the number of inpatient days in hospital, a 45 per cent drop in the number of emergency room visits and a 68 per cent decline in the number of “noted addiction and mental health related EMS events.”

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Despite some of the positive findings, AHS’ report found “there was no significant difference made on the number of events that resulted in transportation to a medical facility.” It also found there was no significant change in the frequency of traumatic injuries suffered by residents from before they moved in compared with afterwards. However, AHS said previously those traumatic injuries were more likely to include gunshots and stab wounds but after residents moved in to the facility, any injuries were more consistent with trip- and fall-related injuries.

The report found that “access to culturally-appropriate services and staff who provide residents with patient-centered care improves residents’ mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health.”

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Ambrose Place, a partnership between AHS and Niginan Housing Ventures, sees residents supported by a combination of indigenous elders, health workers, independent-living workers, social workers and addiction counsellors. According to AHS, the supportive housing approach sees workers meet residents where they are at to try and improve their health and well-being. They also say workers deal with residents “in a non-judgmental and gradual fashion.”

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Ambrose Place operates as a supportive housing unit that tries to help its residents reduce their use of alcohol and drugs and manage their addictions at home.

AHS said its most pressing concerns for the facility’s residents before they moved in were related to substance abuse: overdoses, psychiatric disorders, withdrawal symptoms and public intoxication.

According to AHS, Ambrose Place will now undergo a more qualitative review of its performance. The data for that will be collected through sharing circles led by residents.

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