The Cloverdale Paint Child and Adolescent Psychiatric  Stabilization Unit (CAPSU), which opened in late May,  is already making a difference in the lives of young people and their families.

In the first three months alone, the CAPSU team helped more than 100 young people in mental health crisis. Patients and families came to the unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital from 17 different communities.

Among other unique features, CAPSU is the first inpatient unit in the province to have a Parent in Residence Program, a support service provided by parents who have lived through similar experiences with their own children.

CAPSU parent in residence Tammy Music, who works on the unit with her colleague Sandra Spani, explains that most parents feel overwhelmed by the crisis in their child’s life, and they are grateful for the opportunity to connect with someone who understands what they are going through.

She notes that families feel better supported when they can talk freely and process what they are going though, and they appreciate that she has walked in their shoes.

“Parents look at you and go ‘oh you have lived through this and here you are’ – it gives a sense of hope that you can go through it and things will get better.”

The CAPSU parents in residence work closely with the care team, checking in and connecting directly with parents on the unit. Sometimes the connection is made over a cup of tea in the Family Room or during a walk outside the unit. If the child’s stay is very short, it can be made by phone to the parent in residence voice mail at CAPSU, or via email.

As well as a friendly ear, the CAPSU parent in residence can provide education, resources and support, including coaching families on how to best advocate for their child while stressing the importance of taking care of themselves.

The CAPSU Parent in Residence service is part of a larger community-based program and CAPSU parents can continue to receive support after their child is transferred or discharged. To find out more about community-based parent or youth in residence services, visit the FamilySmart™ website at www.familysmart.ca.

Our thanks go out to all of you who helped Surrey Hospital Foundation raise more than $2 million for CAPSU.