Kentwood Place offers hope and independence

A unique transitional housing project has come to Red Deer in the form of Kentwood Place.

The Schizophrenia Society of Alberta is proud to be able to provide a housing project like Kentwood Place in Red Deer and said it will make a great difference in individuals’ lives.

“When they come to Kentwood we give them the necessary skills to live on their own in community with access to support,” said Barb Zager, branch manager with the Schizophrenia Society.

Kentwood Place has room for 25 individuals and provides psychosocial rehabilitation to help people with mental illness develop goals in managing their illness. Along with the tenants, the staff includes a recreational therapist, a support worker and a handful of medical staff.

The tenants at Kentwood receive modified Assured Income for Severely Handicapped (AISH) and pay their own room and board.

“The tenants get to get out in community and socialize and volunteer so they can go out and be successful. Being involved and being around other people is very therapeutic too,” said Zager.

The staff at Kentwood Place all strive to ensure that services are relevant to each person and address the distinct needs of each individual by interacting with them while keeping consistent with their values, hopes and aspirations.

A huge benefit of a project like Kentwood Place is providing dignity to people who sometimes may not know what it feels like to be treated with respect, officials say.

The building is in Kentwood and is an unassuming fixture from the outside. The interior was described as homey and comfortable by attendees of the open house held on Nov. 18.

Schizophrenia affects one in 100 Albertans which means that 30,000 Albertans will be diagnosed in their lifetime.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that impairs a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions and relate to others.

The Schizophrenia Society of Alberta values Kentwood Place as being a way for individuals inflicted by the illness to cope, interact with others and live functional lives.

“Kentwood opened in 2006 so it’s been in operation for five years. We just hosted a grand opening to celebrate the purchase of the building in July 2010,” said Zager.

Kentwood Place received a grant through the Alberta Ministry of Seniors and Community Supports. The project then became licensed under the Supportive Living Accommodation Act on April 1, 2011.

A partnership between the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta and Alberta Health Services – Addiction and Mental Health helps to deliver the services at Kentwood Place.

Some of the goals at Kentwood Place include providing hope, mutual respect, dignity, self-determination, empowerment, a focus on “real world” meaningful activities, shared decision-making and prevention of unnecessary hospitalization.

“Some of these folks have lived in hospital for 17 plus years and living in community and getting them out on City transit where they never had that before and seeing their doctors regularly and getting involved in the community is a huge plus that they didn’t have in hospital.”

Zager said the staff members all see regular improvements in the tenants and that they hope to continue that trend.