Campbell River Head Injury Society eyes empty lot next door for expansion

Hillcrest House, which provides temporary shelter and support for people with brain injuries, is already at capacity

Just one year after the Campbell River Head Injury Support Society moved into its new Hillcrest home, the society is already looking to expand.

Hillcrest House, which provides temporary shelter and support for people with brain injuries, is already at capacity.

Shelley Howard, executive director of the society, told council last week that she would like to build a second building next door to Hillcrest House which occupies the corner at Dogwood and 9th Avenue.

“The lot next door is available. The owner approached us and is very supportive of what we’re doing,” Howard said. “We want to take next door and be able to put an apartment on it. We’re looking for up to 24 apartments.”

Howard said since the doors of Hillcrest House opened, the society has been learning as it goes. She said she quickly realized there is a need to house not only individuals but families.

Howard told of two clients – a mom and her adult son – who both had brain injuries, caught pneumonia and needed a place to stay. She said the society housed them until they were strong enough to move on.

That example is just a snapshot of Hillcrest House’s success rate. The home, which downstairs includes a reception area filled with computers, a large meeting room, a couple of offices, and a kitchen, gives clients the support they need to get back on their feet.

With four, 350 square foot suites upstairs, space is limited and there is already a waiting list for room and board.

“We’ve had nine residents since we opened,” Howard said. “We really didn’t think we’d have that many but we’ve had quite a high success rate and that’s encouraging.”

Howard said of the four suites, three have catered to patients who have come and gone while the fourth has been occupied for some time.

The patients who live in the suites pay an income-based rent and have access to a 24-hour care worker.

The society receives a limited budget from the Vancouver Island Health Authority and receives most of its funding through community fundraising and grants.

Howard said the more the Head Injury Support Society can take on, the less of a drain there is on the health care system.

“Over the past year we have received numerous calls from the hospital about patients who are brain injured and living in the hospital because there are no other safe affordable options to release them to,” Howard said. “In some cases the costs are upwards of $1,000 or more per day plus they are taking up valuable surgery or medical bed space. If we can offer them safe and affordable housing, that lessens the impact on the community and the health care system.”

The community is invited to stop by Hillcrest House anytime Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to meet the clients and see the work the society has done on the house.