The Barrhead Association for Community Living (BACL) is worried that two of its Lighthouse programs could be in jeopardy.
Lighthouse is a non-profit organization run under BACL’s umbrella, that has been offered in Barrhead for 12 years. It provides support services for people and their families who are suffering from schizophrenia, bi-polar, depression and addiction issues.
“They [Alberta Health Services] only gave us a six-month contract that runs out on Sept. 30,” Lighthouse director Dale Clark said, adding normally the organization receives a contract for a year.
The majority of the funding from the contract goes towards two initiatives — the first being a peer support group led by facilitator psychologist Dr. Cath Thorlakson.
“This program is based on cognitive behavoural therapy,” Clark said.
The other, Stories in Motion, is lead by Don McGillivray.
“The program is based on narrative practices,” she said.
According to the Stories in Motion website McGillivray explains the technique is based on the concept that people are not the problem, but problem is the problem.
Besides working with the Lighthouse program, McGillivray is a behaviour consultant with Pembina Hills Public Schools (PHPS).
Anyone who is experiencing a mental health disorder, or addiction issue is eligible for either program.
Clark said the reason Alberta Health Services (AHS) gave for the possibly of not renewing its contract past Sept. 30, is because they are duplicating services already provided by Alberta Mental Health.
“We don’t believe that there is. There is no group therapy, there is no narrative practices,” Clark said. “We consider what we do an augmentation of what Alberta Health offers through its Mental Health Services because they can’t see everyone.”
Clark said the decision is also surprising because of the relationship they have with Alberta Mental Health.
“We have a very good relationship with the people in Alberta Mental Health services,” Clark said. “They have referred people to us and want to keep going.”
Clark added AHS has told them that they stand a much better chance of having their contract extended beyond Sept. 30, if they discontinued the two programs and focused strictly on being a drop-in centre.
This is something Clark said the BACL board are not willing to do.
“The programs have both been very successful and over the years have helped a lot of people,” she said, adding currently they have about 25 clients enrolled in the two programs.
Regardless of the contract extension, Clark said they will continue to offer the programs and are looking for help from the business and corporate community.
“Over the years we have received a lot of support, from businesses like the Co-op, who have helped us with our fundraising efforts,” she said, referring to the barbecue the food store hosted on June 16. “Not only did we raise more than $300, but having partnerships like the one we have the Co-op improves our chances when we apply for funding.”
However, Clark said the board is hopeful they will be able to change AHS’ mind and are currently investigating AHS policies, looking for possible options. They have also been in contact with health minister Sarah Hoffman and hope to arrange for a meeting in the near future.
When we asked for an interview with Alberta Health Services to comment they sent us the following statement:
“AHS works with funded community partners to ensure that the services they offer align with the needs of residents. AHS’ contract with the Barrhead Association for Community Living is up for review later this year and we are working to ensure the services offered are meeting the needs of the community. AHS will continue discussions with the association to ensure residents have the care and the programming they need. We appreciate all the work that they and other community partners provide.”
For more information about the Lighthouse program go online to www.bacl-lighthouse.com.