Patient-run café nurtures work and life skills
For some, it’s a new place to hang out. For others, it’s a tangible connection to a brighter future off the unit. There’s a new café run by clients, for clients, inside the secure Forensic Treatment Unit at Brockville Mental Health Centre, one of The Royal’s campuses.
The River Café was made possible by donations to The Royal, and will equip forensic treatment clients with work and life skills that will hopefully come in handy when they transition back into the community. The Royal’s Forensics Program provides mental health care to people who have come into contact with the criminal justice system.
“When I first heard about the River Café, I thought it was a good thing. When they handed the applications on the unit I applied right away, because I knew it would give me work experience and something to do while I am here,” said Trevor, one of the patients who works in The River Café.
“I really like it,” he adds. “This program helps me to focus on something constructive to do and it gives me something to look for- ward to. Maybe one day I will be able to get work in the community again. The café is an important part in helping me prepare for the community.”
“The River Café is a program that evolved based on a need expressed by clients and staff,” said Julie Basiliadis, one of the occupational therapists key to making the café happen. The River Café is open Monday to Friday for two hours a day during lunch.
“This is a positive space that encourages social integration in a casual setting, and also promotes a sense of empowerment among clients. They now have the opportunity to make their own food choices and develop competitive employment skills as they prepare for community reintegration,” said Basiliadis.
Clients prepare the food served in the café, and a dietitian helps clients create the café’s menu. The River Café also provides patients in the photography group — another occupational therapy program — a space to showcase their art, which hangs on the café walls.