Sumac Place celebrates the journey so far

Christine Wood/Staff Writer / Staff writer
September 20, 2013 01:00 AM

Staff of Sumac Place, the Coast's only recovery home for people with mental illness, pose for a quick photo during their Sumac Days celebration on Sept. 13. See more photos in our on-line galleries at www.coastreporter.net.

Staff and residents of Sumac Place, the Coast's only recovery home for people with mental illness, celebrated 10 months in their new facility on Kiwanis Way with a barbecue, games, music and tours on Sept. 13.

Family, friends and some members of the public came to the celebration that was also meant to help break down barriers and challenge misconceptions about mental illness.

"This event is all about having fun with our residents and the community. It's about making our community more inclusive and reducing the stigma around mental illness, which is what we're trying to do from a recovery model perspective," said Colleen Sasges, occupational therapist at Sumac Place.

The recovery model aims to support people living with mental illness in their recovery journey by empowering them to "live their best life," Sasges said.

Recovery focused care helps residents develop their abilities and strengths, learn positive coping strategies, set future goals and develop personal and social supports to help them succeed.

Residents at Sumac Place also receive life skills training in everything from proper hygiene to cooking and cleaning.

The ultimate goal of Sumac Place is to help clients transition back into society, and the first graduate is set to move out soon.

"We are really excited about that," said Kathie Scheele, program coordinator. "It's nice to see all the accomplishments he has made."

Sumac Place opened on Nov. 9 last year with a handful of clients, and now 20 live on site.

Each resident has their own room and bathroom and shares a common kitchen and living area, much like a dorm set up.

Sumac Place can accommodate 28 residents and is divided into four wings, each with seven rooms.

Each wing leads onto a common patio area and residents also share an art room where a recreation therapist leads what are often thought-provoking art sessions.

One such art project saw staff and residents create photo collages that depicted each person's vision of recovery.

The idea was taken a step further in a video project where residents and staff offered their insights.

Phrases like "continuum of change," "finding balance," "becoming beautifully whole" and "taking small steps" were offered to describe the recovery model.

"It's about empowerment and hope, but it's easier said than done. Sometimes it's easier to go with dogmatic rules, but that's not helping anyone in the long run," Sasges said, noting the model is a new one for Vancouver Coastal Health.

While working through the new model, residents were asked collectively to create a vision statement.

"People, working together to restore hope within the hearts of individuals, to discover and develop personal strengths and overcome challenges with acceptance, compassion and respect," they wrote together.

Find out more about Sumac Place at www.vch.ca/EN/6528.


© Coast Reporter

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