TORONTO, ON (November 16, 2022) – Today, Casey House clients are able to smoke substances on-site as part of its hospital-based supervised consumption services (SCS). This development makes Casey House the first site in the province to offer indoor supervised inhalation.
Adding this form of consumption, in addition to injection, snorting or eating, as an option for clients makes safer drug use and overdose prevention more accessible. Smoking is an increasingly common method of drug consumption and will make Casey House’s SCS accessible for even more people. Having a safe indoor space allows people to safely use substances with privacy and dignity.
Additionally, research from the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario shows that there has been a significant shift towards inhalation-related deaths during the pandemic. In 2020 in Ontario, just over one-third of deaths were inhalation-related – an 11% increase from pre-pandemic times. The report points to the need for more harm reduction services tailored specifically to this mode of drug use, including supervised inhalation services.
Supervised inhalation is also highly recommended by community stakeholders. Recently, inhalation was endorsed in the toolkit Twelve characteristics of client-centred supervised consumption services (SCS), developed by the Engage with Harm Reduction study that featured input from Casey House staff, peers and community members.
Casey House’s SCS are open to registered clients 24 hours a day on the inpatient unit and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. for outpatients, and are integrated into its regular health services. Clients use their own drugs while being monitored by trained staff who can provide emergency medical care in case of overdose. Drug testing and supervision at an SCS substantially reduce the risk of overdose and death, and increase access to sterile equipment, education on safer use, and health and social services. Supervised inhalation is for unregulated substances only; neither tobacco nor cannabis can be smoked in the SCS.
Casey House CEO Joanne Simons is proud to be expanding the supervised consumption services for the hospital’s clients, and says, “We were able to do this in a cost-effective manner, and believe this is a critical health care investment for organizations and governments to improve health care outcomes for people who use drugs.”
Simons goes on to say how much the hospital acknowledges and is grateful for the ground-breaking work of the harm reduction community across the country, such as sites like Prairie Harm Reduction in Saskatchewan and Blood Ties in Yukon. She looks forward to other organizations being able to also offer this much-needed service.
Casey House is unlike any other hospital. We are a specialty hospital in Toronto providing ground-breaking care to people living with and at risk of HIV. Together with our clients, staff, peers and volunteers, we strive to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels safe. We offer a growing mix of inpatient, outpatient and community-based services that meet clients where they are in their individual journeys of health and wellness. Building on a legacy of advocacy and social justice, we actively dismantle barriers to care and safe living. We provide a community and sense of belonging that connects people to care. The humanity of each client is at the heart of everything we do.
To book an interview with Casey House chief executive officer Joanne Simons, or for more information, contact:
Narrative on behalf of Casey House
See where and how Casey House offers its hospital-based SCS in a short video here.
Casey House becomes first Ontario hospital to provide safe, supervised space for substance use, April 2022
Compassionate Care: Increasing access to supervised consumption services, April 2022