Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter (CAWES) has worked for many years to support women and children who have experienced domestic violence. Many hundreds of women and children have been helped—and continue to be helped— through our shelter and outreach programs.
In January 2017, we started an important transformation when we joined a national initiative spearheaded by the YWCA Canada and BC Transition Housing. This “Open Doors” initiative has two objectives: to encourage trauma informed and low-barrier-to-entry services in organizations that help women who have experienced violence. Our commitment to Open Doors, and to provincial efforts to improve services provided by women’s shelters, means that change is underway at CAWES.
We always tried to deliver services that were client-centered and evidence-based. However, as we learned about the need to address trauma we have had to re-examine every aspect of our services to ensure we are not inadvertently re-traumatizing clients in an attempt to help. We have also had to recognize that limiting our services to only women who experience domestic violence was not fair or justifiable: women can experience violence in many settings.
We learned we could, and need, to do more.
Now, among other changes, we are working with women in a way that minimizes re-traumatization. We are opening our doors to women who, in the past, we turned away or referred to other services. We are learning about, implementing, and encouraging our residents and outreach clients to consider harm-reduction strategies.
Our clients are sharing stories about how these changes are helping them. One client recently told us:
“I am just writing because I wanted to update you on my Journey so far… I just got the news on Friday that I am transitioning into a Second Stage house… I will be in life skills 5 days a week and all kinds of groups for mental health, addiction, trauma, budgeting, academics… one-on-one counselling… I learned so far that I need 2 let go a bit, give myself more credit, and be in the moment… Without the help of ya’ll I wouldn’t be where I am right now… Thanks 2 CAWES staff I made the decision 2 ask for help as u supported me 2 get here”
Client’s unsolicited testimonial about CAWES’ new approach to programing.
This is the kind of feedback we would love to hear from all clients who have used our shelter and outreach services.
CAWES’ Board, management team and staff are committed to providing trauma informed, low- barrier-to-entry services to women in Central Alberta. We are collecting data on client outcomes, referrals, safety, and staff satisfaction, and we look forward to sharing our findings. We are committed to working with funders, partners, and the broader community to help everyone understand the changes we are pursuing, why they are needed, and how we can support each other as we continue our transformation.
Empowered, Happy and Healthy
Michelle lost a kidney to cancer 20 years ago. Her blood pressure has been challenging to keep in a healthy range since. A busy life with little focus on healthy got her in trouble. In late December 2020, she ended up in emergency with extremely high blood pressure in the 200/150 range and a blood sugar of 25. She was very sick. She had a second similar episode in January. At that time, she was let go from her job. This turned out to be the best thing that happened as she now had time to focus on her health.
The RDPCN family nurse recommended she attend Diabetes the Basics as well as providing her with ongoing one-to-one support for several months. She also got connected to a weight management program, supervised exercise and Heartwise.
Fast forward to 18 months, she has decreased her clothing size from 20 to 14. Her blood sugar is now 7 and her blood pressure is in the range of 138/95. Great improvements!
She is back to work. She walks about an hour per day and she feels amazing! She has used the portion control plate to help improve her eating habits. She is eating way better and enjoying it. One thing she could not give up was Pepsi. She used to have at least 3 cans per day. Now she uses Diet Pepsi in much smaller volumes, but she cannot get by without some Pepsi. Long-lasting insulin and using the Libre sensor have been great tools to help her live healthily. She feels very empowered, happy and healthy!!
Learn more about the Red Deer Primary Care Network. Click here.
Red Deer Recovery Community will offer hope for residents from Central Alberta and around the world
Central Albertans won’t be the only ones paying close attention to the official opening of the Red Deer Recovery Community next month. According to Marshall Smith, Chief of Staff to Premier Danielle Smith, jurisdictions from across North America will be looking to the Red Deer Recovery Community for potential answers to their own issues. Red Deer Recovery Community will be the first of 11 the province is opening over the coming months.
Cities across North America and beyond have been battling an addictions crisis, and losing. As the number of homeless people and the number of fatal overdoses continues to rise, cities are looking for new solutions. After years of slipping further behind, Alberta has decided on a new approach to recovery and Marshall Smith has been leading the charge.
Smith is a recovering addict himself. A political organizer from BC, he once worked for former Premier Gordon Campbell. His own crisis started with alcohol, then moved to cocaine dependency before he eventually succumbed to methamphetamine use. The successful political operative found himself without work and living on the street for over four years. Eventually he benefited from a 35 day stay in a publicly funded recovery centre in BC.
Former Alberta Premier Jason Kenney brought Smith to Alberta to head up the UCP’s addictions and recovery file. His personal experiences and incredible comeback story are at the heart of Alberta’s new approach.
While the success of recovery programs vary, Marshall Smith and Dr. Christina Basedow of the Edgewood Health Network (operators of Red Deer Recovery Community) say with the right treatment and the right amount of time, they expect a very high rate of successful recoveries. Smith says the province won’t give up on patients, even if some have to go through more than once.
The Recovery Community is central to this new approach, but patients who will be able to stay for up to a year, will need somewhere to go when they leave. This week the province also announced the Bridge Healing Transitional Accommodation Program in Edmonton. This “second stage” housing will ensure former addicts have a place to stay upon leaving addiction treatment centres. This will be their home in the critical days following treatment when they need to reestablish their lives by finding work or educational opportunities.
Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston feels the 75 bed Recovery Community will be transformation for Central Alberta. Mayor Johnston says all Central Albertans will play an important role in helping former addicts when they leave the Recovery Community.
Construction of the Red Deer Recovery Community is all but complete.
Thursday, municipal and provincial politicians toured the facility and were introduced to the operators of the new facility. Dr Christina Basedow, Western VP of Edgewood Health Network teamed up with Nicholas Milliken, Alberta’s Mental Health and Addiction Minister, to take questions about operations.
Premier Danielle Smith made the trip to Central Alberta to offer support for the project and see the facility first hand.
Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston and Premier Danielle Smith listen to Chief of Staff Marshall Smith
In the days leading up to an official opening expected in February, Edgewood Health Network is finalizing the admission process which will see the first batch of up to 75 people suffering addictions moving into single and double occupied rooms.
The new 75-bed facility, will begin accepting residents battling addictions in February. Those residents will stay for up to a full year accessing medications, programming and developing life skills.
In the meantime the province expects a recovery industry will be developing in Red Deer including second stage housing opportunities and counselling.
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