Clearwater House was officially opened today which is a residential facility providing 22 beds for specialist care for patients with severe or chronic mental illness.
The new accommodation will significantly improve the services offered with more modern, comfortable and secure surroundings and was made possible through an innovative partnership between the Housing Executive for Northern Ireland, the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Choice Housing and Threshold.
As mental illness is the single largest cause of ill health and disability in Northern Ireland with one in five adults living with a mental health problem, this new facility and the partnership that brought it to fruition provides a model for the approach to tackling severe mental illness going forward.
The treatment provided by Threshold is offered to mental health patients who would otherwise remain in a psychiatric hospital and has been successful in re-integrating patients with severe or chronic mental illness back into their communities.
Speaking at the opening the pioneer of this therapeutic atmosphere treatment in Northern Ireland, Dr Raman Kapur explained: “The treatment we offer at all our facilities and now at Clearwater House, allows severely ill people to lead more autonomous, productive and fulfilling lives than can be achieved through medications alone. It is rooted in a psychoanalytic model that emphasises the listening process, attending to underlying thoughts and feelings and respect for patient’s autonomy. Grounded in three decades of experience success is evidenced based with more than 2,000 people benefitting over the past 27 years.”
Dr Kapur went on to say that the creation of Clearwater House would not have been possible without the foresight of those involved to recognise how a joined-up approach could work:
“Each partner is fundamental to the success of the programme: funding from the Housing Executive’s ‘Supporting People Initiative’ covers the running costs of the service while the expertise of Choice Housing assisted in developing the build in line with Threshold’s direction. The Belfast Health & Social Care Trust have supported through their demonstration of confidence in the specialist treatment we offer, referring patients and entrusting us with their care and providing additional ‘domiciliary care’ top up funding. I have no doubt that this partnership approach is the way forward and is key to tackling the growing mental health issues which our society faces today.”
Anne Sweeney, the Housing Executive’s Assistant Director of Strategic Partnerships, said:
“I would like to acknowledge the hard work that goes into development work like this and congratulate everyone involved. I would also like to highlight the valuable work management and front-line support staff carryout in day to day operations and support activities within supported housing services like this, funded through the Supporting People Programme, on behalf of the Department for Communities.
“We are committed to working with partner agencies and the sector to deliver housing support services that demonstrate quality and value for money that continue to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable in society.”
Also speaking at the opening, Hazel Bell, Chair of Choice Housing said:
“This is an important project for North Belfast in continuing to provide a high standard of independent and shared living while meeting the growing needs of the ever-changing population in the North Belfast and surrounding area. This scheme provides a safe, secure and stable environment which will enable residents to play their part in that local community.”
“We have worked closely with the local community throughout the new build project to ensure it reflects the needs of the area. We’re pleased to partner with Threshold NI and value the ongoing partnerships with the Department for Communities and the NI Housing Executive in making these types of schemes possible”.
 Mental Health in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Assembly, 2017