HIV+ Men and Women with Mental Health & Addiction Issues
McEwan Housing and Support Services is a supportive housing and community support program for people aged 16 and older, of all gender identities and sexual orientations, living with HIV or AIDS, who have mental health or addiction issues or both, and are homeless or at risk of becoming so. It is the only housing program in Ontario dedicated to serving this highly vulnerable population, and one of only a very few in the world.
The McEwan program is founded on principles of personal empowerment and self-management, and works toward the establishment of a network of community support for each client. A key element is the monthly social activities and outings that are available to all current and former clients of McEwan and its related services. These activities foster the building of a community of mutual support while providing a safe place to socialize free from stigma. Respectful of the strengths and needs of each individual, services are open-ended and flexible in intensity, responding as people’s needs change over time.
As new medications for HIV/AIDS have been developed, the program has adapted its services. Although palliative care remains a part of the program, the emphasis on rehabilitative needs has increased, including self-care, medication regimes, and household management.
The McEwan programs value and practice the principles of GIPA/MIPA (Greater/Meaningful Involvement of People with AIDS) in the development and implementation of all programming. The McEwan Program Advisory Committee, made up of clients from all facets of the McEwan program, designs and implements regular client satisfaction surveys, and is involved in a number of community outreach and education/awareness initiatives.
Supportive Housing Services
McEwan House itself is a wheel-chair accessible, high-support residence for ten people providing support, counseling, case management and system navigation services as well as assistance as needed with the activities of daily living. Staff members are available in the house 24/7. The McEwan program also offers a five-person low-support shared house and six independent apartment units with no on-site staffing, but with the option of personal support for the activities of daily living, as needed.
Mental Health Community Support
McEwan Community Support Workers support the wider McEwan membership including more than 100 clients living independently in the community. Clients have access to counseling, mental health and addiction support, system navigation, advocacy, referrals to other needed services, network building within the McEwan community and beyond, and 24-hour crisis management support.
McEwan House offers a Respite Program to any members of the McEwan community living independently who have temporary need for a higher level of support as a result of a physical or mental health crisis, or during a change or adjustment to a medication regime, but do not wish to give up their independent housing. Palliative care services are also available to former residents and members of the McEwan community.
Positive Service Coordination
McEwan hosts and leads the innovative and highly successful Positive Service Coordination program. In association with a dozen formal partner agencies and a number of informal partners, Service Coordination is a cross-sectoral service program supported in its inception by the Housing Working Group of the Toronto HIV/AIDS Network. This program provides intensive one-on-one case management services to people who are homeless and living with a mental illness, an addiction and HIV/AIDS, and have experienced a physical or mental health crisis.
This highly vulnerable population includes many long-term homeless individuals who have generally been considered hard to serve or resistant to service. The specialized support provided by the Positive Service Coordination is assisting more than 30 people a year to leave the street, stabilize and take control of their mental and physical health, obtain affordable housing, and recovery their dignity and independence.
Addiction Supportive Housing Program (ASH)
This program provides intensive case management for 32 individuals at a time, who are homeless and have HIV/AIDS in combination with a significant substance abuse issue. McEwan Housing and Support Services provides specialized Addictions Case Management in partnership with Fife House which provides the affordable housing.
Read Marshall’s Story – a client of McEwan.