Sheway is well-known in Canada for its success in providing wrap-around services for pregnant and newly parenting women who are dealing with complex personal and social circumstances. It is trauma-informed, women-centred, culturally responsive and uses a harm reduction approach with a focus on connection with self and others. Women and their children can remain in the program up to 18 months post-partum. Last December, Lenora Marcellus, University of Victoria, and Sheway published findings to their study on how women make the transition from Sheway to living on their own – Supporting Families at Sheway and Beyond. Additionally, Dr. Marcellus has published a journal article:
Marcellus, L. (2017). A grounded theory of mothering in the early years for women recovering from substance use. Journal of Family Nursing. E-print ahead of press.
In order to learn what elements of a positive transition could be identified and built upon, they followed 18 women for 3 years after leaving Sheway. These women faced multiple obstacles in this transition process with the overarching theme being “holding it together.” Their daily efforts are explored in these 3 ways:
Restoring Self: gaining recovery and taking care of self, reconnecting with self and others, and rebuilding trust and credibility.
Centering Family: parenting their children, preserving a routine, dealing with partners, and handling custody issues.
Creating Home: “chasing housing”, having to take whatever housing is available even if inadequate, and maintaining not only a physical space but a feeling of home for the family
While acknowledging the value for pregnancy and postpartum support as most often provided in maternity programs, their findings underscore that secure housing is a key component to a successful transition for women and their families. Yet, although housing is important to the overall health of women and their families, the choices they must make often result in a double bind. For example, women often are faced with choosing between affordable housing that is far from supports versus more expensive housing that is near supports. Some women must choose between staying in an unsafe relationship or losing housing. As well, some women must accept inadequate housing because of their substance use history, which serves to undermine their recovery and their maintaining custody of their children.
“Poor housing was identified by women as a potential trigger to relapse in their recovery.” –  p. 39
Complete findings are detailed within the report and recommendations are framed within the Levels of Prevention model developed by this prevention network. Among the research team recommendations is to extend the time women can stay in the program in order to solidify recovery, supports and resources. As well, they stress that housing needs to be a core component of intensive, integrated maternity programs.
For more on these topics, see earlier posts:
HOLISTIC AND SPECIALIZED SUPPORT FOR PREGNANT WOMEN: LEVEL 3 PREVENTION, November 21, 2016
THE MOTHER-CHILD STUDY: EVALUATING TREATMENTS FOR SUBSTANCE-USING WOMEN, MARCH 18, 2015
SUPPORTING PREGNANT AND PARENTING WOMEN WHO USE SUBSTANCES: WHAT COMMUNITIES ARE DOING TO HELP, OCTOBER 1, 2012
HERWAY HOME ‘ONE-STOP ACCESS’ PROGRAM IN VICTORIA SET TO OPEN, MAY 20, 2012
“NEW CHOICES” FOR PREGNANT AND PARENTING WOMEN WITH ADDICTIONS, JANUARY 9, 2012
TORONTO CENTRE FOR SUBSTANCE USE IN PREGNANCY (T-CUP), DECEMBER 19, 2011
CLINICAL WEBCAST ON BREAKING THE CYCLE PROGRAM: SEPTEMBER 20, 2011, AUGUST 2, 2011
- Marcellus, L., Supporting families at Sheway and beyond: Self, recovery, family home. 2016, Sheway: Vancouver, BC.
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