Haven homes lie empty

| 14/03/2011

(CNS): Two residential homes that are supposed to house recovering drug abusers are currently both empty. The halfway house at the government-run Caribbean Haven Residential Centre has not been occupied since December, and the Women’s Centre has still not re-opened following a fire in one of the bedrooms on 2 May 2010. Furthermore, Judith Seymour, director of the Department of Counselling Services, said staff were struggling to meet the demand for services and that there was no room to respond to requests for services outside the current mandate.

Although initially it was expected that repairs to the women’s facility would be completed in early August, the director said they were not completed on time. In completing the repairs to the structural damage caused by the fire, several issues and faults arose within the mechanical and electrical systems of the centre that required attention, and this has delayed the process significantly, Seymour told CNS by email.

She said that Counselling Services also had to await approval for extraordinary funding from Cabinet to replace damaged items within the centre. Additionally, there are currently two clinical staff vacancies within the residential treatment team that need to be filled in order to re-open the facility, Seymour noted. These have been advertised with a view to recruit into these positions as soon as possible, she said.

At the time of the fire there were four female clients living in the 12-bed Women’s Centre. The facility opened in June 2009 and is located on the same complex in Breakers as the 18-bed men’s unit and the halfway house for those recovering from drug abuse, called Serenity House, which can house five men. Seymour noted that there is also one room in the female unit which is reserved for two women who require halfway house services.

The last occupancy at Serenity House was in December 2010, the director said, and just nine clients have made use of the halfway house over the past year. Currently fifteen male clients are being helped in the men’s unit and Seymour said the occupancy fluctuates, but averages about 65% to 75% on an annual basis.

“The current staff complement is struggling to meet the existing demand for services, Seymour said. “In addition to the stress on existing staff to meet current demands, there is no room to respond to external agencies requests for services outside our current mandate, nor are we able to develop relevant programmes in response to new initiatives or legislation.”

According to the director, within the Residential Programme there are currently four counsellor positions and three counsellor trainee positions in addition to the clinical supervisor and programme coordinator. These clinical staff are supported by six night managers, who oversee residents’ care and ensure security throughout the night, and two auxiliary staff, namely the cook and housekeeper. At The Counselling Centre, which provides outpatient services to clients presenting for drug and alcohol issues as well as provides individual, couples and family therapy services, there are currently five counsellors and one counsellor trainee, one programme coordinator, and the deputy director, who is currently providing clinical supervision to the clinical staff.

Seymour said that clients who present for treatment whose primary drug of choice is alcohol require medical monitoring during detoxification, and this service is provided at the George Town hospital in conjunction with the inpatient Mental Health unit. In addition, clients who have a dual diagnosis of both a mental health and substance abuse disorder will be treated concurrently with the assistance of the Mental Health Department staff.

Asked if maximum use is made of the Caribbean Haven facilities, the director said the Men’s Centre was utilized most effectively, but pointed out that the Women’s Centre was only open for eleven months before the fire and claimed it was not possible to determine the effective utilisation based on such a short period of time.

Seymour said the introduction of the non-medical Withdrawal Management Unit at Caribbean Haven had provided immediate access to a safe recovery environment for clients who have made the decision to address their substance misuse. “This unit has therefore facilitated greater access to treatment resources and resulted in increased utilisation of the full continuum of treatment services offered by the Department within both the residential and outpatient programme.” At times, she said, the census at the residential programme is over 90%, although there are periods where it may drop as low as 50%.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    A big part of the problem is the location of the Departments George Town office. It is in the Flagship building on the waterfront….(that cost a pretty penny too).
    The people that need help are most likely intimidated to go there….and it is my understanding that many past patients were referred from the GT offices to the Haven (when offices were elsewhere in GT). But some staff want to be downtown it seems….never mind patient needs. These office should move closer to the Hospital….since many patients also have Mental Health and other medical needs….including Detox!

  2. Anonymous says:

     I think this article is revealing a much bigger problem of the how a government facility is not being properly utilized. And my question is why??? Why wouldn’t a ‘free service’ provided by the government be properly used by the many people are on the streets struggling with drug & alcohol addiction?! Seem like theres a missing piece of the puzzle that we the public don’t know. Maybe the ministry or deputy governor who is head of the civil service should look into what are the problems in this department because something just don’t see right?! 

  3. Anonymous says:

    I find the title of this article somewhat misleading since the article itself states that there 15 of the 18 male places are currently being utilised.

    Also, maybe I am wrong, but isn’t the halfway used for those who do not have family/friends support during there return to the community at large? Therefore if there is no one currently utilising the halfway house maybe those re-entering the community have this support, or maybe the people at the Centre have not yet reached the re-entry stage of treatment. Just a thought!

  4. FSM says:

    “Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members — the last, the least, the littlest.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well this saddness me as my heart was dear to Carribean Haven and I did give towards this cause. But, I wonder where are the staff. Have they been placed elsewhere or are they just at home receiving their pay cheques as before?

    • Anonymous says:

       I saw your comment and had to reply! I know for a fact that in at least the past two years, if not longer, many counselors who were qualified addiction counselors didn’t have their government contracts renewed (with some either leaving the island even though they didn’t want to or they had to find other jobs on the island.)  And above that- there have been many masters level CAYMANIAN counselors that have resigned from this department due to the lack of management and support. At the end of the day it is just sad and I just have to hope that the government does something about this.

      • Anonymous says:

        STop making it so hard for willing, experienced Caymanians that may not have a Bachelors or Masters with upteen years of experience to get a job and you will have more Caymanians in these post-Have a look at the qualifications for a Ciounsellor TRAINEE and you will see what i am talking about – Caymanians are fed up with expats that do not understand our culture talking French to them

  6. Anonymous says:

    I know first hand that there are women on this island that badly need and want help. There is nothing for them and I think that is really sad. And there sits a house for them. I have 28 years sober and I sure needed help in my early days.

  7. Anonymous says:

    These centres are needed in the fight against drug addiction, the powers that be CIG, should investigate why they aren’t being used to their full potential.

  8. Anonymous says:

    the incompetence of cig and the civil service never ends……

  9. Libertarian says:

    ***** These are government centers that the people have to pay for – centers that the court orders addicts to attend against their own will to hear about God and religion and that they are powerfuless and need government’s help! As far as I know people have will power even addicts! In terms of soft drugs like marajuana which is less addicted than alcohol and nicotine, people do have the power to get off these drugs without anyone’s help! The real problem lies in them getting jobs… and I think that is what government should be focusing on. First, if they decriminalize marajuana, there goes paying for the 90% of the people which attend these centers. Besides,most the time, the same 90% end up leaving to once again taking up their habits. You can hardly find anyone who has fully benefited or recovered from these centers. With those stuck on the soft drugs, I think it is a waste of monies. ***** Libertarian

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you read the article? "Seymour said that clients who present for treatment whose primary drug of choice is alcohol"…

      Decriminalisation of marijuana is a completely separate issue from addiction and recovery centres, and your claim that 90% of the residents are there for marijuana addiction is absolutely untrue. People can abuse any drug, legal or illegal, criminalised or decriminalised, and legal status of marijuana will have little impact on the number of people who require assistance with addiction from these centres. One of the most prevalent addictions, in Cayman and throughout the world, is alcohol addiction.

      You claim "you can hardly find anyone who has fully benefited or recovered from these centers". What are you basing this on?

      Also, you are one of the most confused Libertarians I have ever heard if you are concerned with Government "getting [them] jobs"…

      • Anonymous1 says:

        FALSE. He said, “The real problem lies in them getting jobs… and I think that is what government should be focusing on.” Boy you can cut and paste 🙂

        • Anonymous says:

          Regardless the comments made by libertarian show a complete misunderstanding of addiction and the answer to addicts is to give them a job??? How many unrecovered addicts make it to work on a regular basis?

          Simply speak to any psychiatrist about drugs and ask if ganga is a gateway drug to other drugs.

          Ganga use is not often used as a motivational substance rather those regular ganga smokers I have known want to chill out not work out.

          Complete abstinence is the recommended method.

          Unfortunately many people believe as does libertarian seems to that ganga is harmless and this hampers law enforcement and recovery.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am sorry to say that Libertarian does not have the knowledge to be able to comment. I have 28 years sober and his lack of understanding of the the problem is really sad.

    • Hallowe'en Jack says:

      Interesting.  This goes to the heart of Libertarian’s raison d’etre.  If man does not have free will then the case for libertarianism is significantly weakened (leaving aside the powerful arguments that community or society benefits are more important than individual benefits which is the stronger counter-point to libertarianism in an increasing inter-dependent modern society).

      However the medical definitions of addiction are predicated on the loss of free will.  It is definitional.  An addict is one who has lost control over the choice to use or act out and has lost the control over the quantities consumed or the repetition or extent of the behaviour in question. 

      Perhaps Libertarian should speak to a few recovered addicts and ask them how much free will they had when they were at their lowest point. 

    • Anon says:


      Please do not make statements about matters you very obviously have no understanding of. For your information, approximately 40 of those persons who have successfully completed treatment and continue to lead productive lives attended a recent alumni bbq at the Centre. I believe this qualifies as has havng “benefited and recovered”

  10. Anonymous says:

    Addiction is a primary contributing factor in crime and this recovery facility is critical in fighting the growing number of alcohol and drug addicts in the Cayman Islands.

    Any anti crime plan without this key component is doomed to failure.