The Complex Needs Advocacy Paper was endorsed by City Council on Monday, July 12. It takes a regional approach to supporting people with complex needs. City Council’s endorsement authorizes Mayor Basran to collaborate with the Mayors of Vernon, West Kelowna, the District of Lake Country, and the Chief of the Okanagan Indian Band to advocate to provincial ministries and senior levels of government to fund infrastructure resources and create an integrated, systems-based model for delivering care.
We support dialogue and action among all organizations involved in complex needs advocacy to foster development of a new model to deliver housing and health care supports. This model will integrate and coordinate the work done by municipalities, BC Housing, Interior Health, regional service providers, the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society and the Province of BC to support people with complex needs.
People with complex needs experience overlapping health conditions, affecting their overall health and wellbeing. These include substance use disorders, co-morbid developmental disabilities, acquired brain injuries and Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Existing supports can be hard for people with complex needs to access because those supports are often provided by a multitude of different organizations, in a variety of locations across the community, creating barriers to access for people with complex needs. An integrated, systems-based model for delivering care seeks to correct this situation.
The Advocacy Paper provides an in-depth and detailed look at the path ahead in delivering a responsive and comprehensive system of care for people experiencing complex needs. To better understand complex needs, review our Complex Needs Infographic.
People with complex needs experience overlapping conditions affecting their overall health and wellbeing. These can include substance use disorders, co-morbid developmental disabilities, acquired brain injuries and Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which often result in the experience of homelessness and frequent use of crisis and emergency services.
Supports are often provided by a multitude of different organizations, in a variety of locations across the community, creating barriers to access for people with complex needs.
Housing is a basic human right and plays an important role in health and well-being. It can provide a sense of identity, belonging and social support. Addressing the needs of people experiencing homelessness and reducing poverty all contribute to making Kelowna safe and inclusive for our most housing vulnerable.
Research has shown there are approximately 520 people experiencing homelessness in the Central Okanagan and nearly half of those individuals experience complex needs. There is an economic cost to homelessness beyond the human cost. Failing to address housing and health supports systems gaps results in a continued need for crisis responses, which come at a cost to social, health care and justice systems.
Complex Care Housing is an essential component in achieving the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society goal of eliminating homelessness by 2024.
An appropriate model of supportive housing is lacking in the provincial system. We don’t currently have the right model of supportive housing. There is significant need and opportunity to enhance the system of care for individuals by providing housing with integrated and appropriate health supports. In this model, current barriers to access will be addressed and removed.
There are systemic challenges in delivering this type of care. Systems, institutions and processes need to be decolonized and the various organizations and governments delivering services need to coordinate to effectively deliver care.
The Complex Needs Advocacy Paper provides a framework where municipalities, BC Housing, Interior Health, regional service providers, the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society and the Province of BC can address the systems gaps along the continuum of care that affect the Central Okanagan’s most housing vulnerable.
The housing-first approach prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, ending their experience of homelessness and serving as a platform to access the supports they need to pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life. Safe, reliable housing is a right for everyone, including those with the most complex needs.
On the short term, investments will need to be made at all levels of government. However, longer-term, a housing-first approach will reduce costs. Failing to address housing and health supports systems gaps results in a continued need for crisis responses, which come at a cost to social, health care and justice systems. Providing housing to people experiencing homelessness, including those with complex needs, will reduce demand for these crisis responses.