Riverstone Mobile/Home Detox Program Puts Dignity and Respect at the Centre of Care


Aboriginal Outreach Team presents on innovative detox services at First Nations Health Authority Mental Health and Wellness Summit


Lee Erikson, MHSU Manager, Fraser Health presents on the Riverstone Mobile Detox/Daytox Program.

On day one of the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) Mental Health and Wellness Summit, the Fraser Health Riverstone Home/Mobile Detox Program Aboriginal Outreach Team presented on programming they offer in east Fraser Valley communities. The Riverstone Home/Mobile Detox Program provides culturally safe wrap-around services to support clients to undergo detox closer to home, and whenever possible, in their communities.

The Riverstone program's strength ultimately lies in its emphasis on holistic services and continuity of care for clients seeking substance use support. As the team explained, for a Riverstone outreach worker, "wrap-around care" may mean making house calls for clients, connecting with clients after hours, connecting clients with counsellors on weekends, providing health systems navigation and problem solving so that clients stay connected to care. Individualized care is at the heart of the program, and clients are treated with dignity and respect.

In 2015, the FNHA partnered with the Province of BC and Fraser Health on additional funding to expand Riverstone Home/Mobile Detox services throughout the east Fraser Region and to support services for First Nations communities. Through this partnership, the Riverstone Aboriginal Outreach Team now organizes engagement sessions throughout the region to learn more about how Riverstone can best adapt to and work with First Nations communities. Their primary takeaway: the importance of building trust and relationships with communities first and foremost.

The team shared many stories about the impacts their work is beginning to have on the health and wellness journeys of the clients they work with. Alex Peterse, a psychiatric nurse and member of the Riverstone Aboriginal Outreach Team, shared, for example, why he emphasizes Naloxone trainings in his client communities. In a small community of 300-400 people that was hit hard by the opioid crisis, Alex provided Take Home Naloxone training and learned soon after that 50 of the Naloxone kits had been successfully used to save lives. "Those are 50 people that have another opportunity to get well," he told attendees.

A 12-year-old girl participated in another community Naloxone training that he led. Alex noted that at first he was reluctant to train someone so young, but then weeks later, when he was back in that community, she found and thanked him. It turned out that the kit had been used to save one of her parents' best friends. That same day, her parent also asked to be trained. He notes that experiences like these are shifting his perspective on the significance of these discussions and on who should be trained—regardless of age, or whether or not the person being trained uses substances themselves.

The panel discussion sparked a rich dialogue from attendees, many of whom discussed the challenges in their own communities where they may not currently have the resources or facilities to hold similar programming. As Connie Nole of Iskut Valley Health Services shared, her community's closest detox facility is in Prince George—a daunting trip of 12 hours in winter or 9 hours in summer. "It'd be an answer to our prayers," she said, "if we could get mobile up there [in the North] for detox."

Much of the dialogue, however, noted how refreshing it was to hear the stories and to learn about services that were truly client-centred and treated each client as unique and deserving of respect. The stories of how the Riverstone Aboriginal Outreach Team problem-solved under pressure provided many wise practices for the group to bring back to their own communities and workplaces.


Quick Facts:

The Riverstone Mobile/Home Detox Program is a withdrawal management program, run by Fraser Health, for individuals whose substance use does not require admission to an in-patient withdrawal management (detox) program. Withdrawal management services provide short-term medical supervision and support to individuals who are experiencing withdrawal symptoms associated with their discontinued use of alcohol/other drugs. The Riverstone Mobile/Home Detox Program aims to provide short-term support to clients and their families through provision of mobile, home and outpatient detox services.

Home/mobile detox consists of a medical assessment by a physician along with regular monitoring by a nurse and health care worker during the withdrawal process to provide medical management and support. Before discharge from the program, case workers ensure the client and their support network are connected to community programs that continue the recovery process.

While detox is provided at home if the client resides in a safe and supportive environment, clients without an appropriate living situation can stay in a short-term stabilization bed located in different facilities while they participate in the program. Alternatively, clients can also visit the Riverstone Daytox Program located at Chilliwack General Hospital. Detox support is provided seven days a week.

Referrals to the program can be made by individuals, family members, physicians, hospital withdrawal management facilities, or other service providers, via the toll free number 1-866-795-0600. Upon referral, a medical assessment is completed to determine if home/mobile is the right level of care for the individual.

In December 2015, First Nations Health Authority, through a Joint Project Board initiative, supported expansion of Riverstone Mobile/Home Detox Program services to First Nations communities throughout Fraser East, including the Mission to Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows corridor. 

Learn more here: http://www.fnha.ca/about/news-and-events/news/riverstone-home-mobile-detox-services-triple-efforts-in-additional-communities