February 2012, Portage’s Mentally Ill Chemical Abusers (MICA) Program underwent a restructuring, with the aim to eliminate the waiting list, facilitate the orientation process, and increase the program’s efficiency. Now, two years later, the value of the new structure is apparent. Residents are able to complete the different phases of their residential program more quickly and as a result, more clients are being treated at the MICA Program on a yearly basis.
The restructuring was inspired by the long and growing waiting list for this specialised addiction rehabilitation service. A four to six week outpatient orientation phase was added for those who were on the waiting list for residential treatment. During this phase, participants are at the MICA centre from Monday to Friday, between 8 am and 4 pm. They participate in support groups, workshops, and activities to familiarise themselves with the program’s structure and prepare for life in residential treatment.
“Once they get to the residential phase, clients are better prepared and more equipped to really embrace the rehabilitation process,” explains Antonio Maturo, Director of the MICA Program. “With this extra preparation in the orientation phase, they are able to complete the different stages of the residential program more quickly; within six months.”
During their last six weeks in residence, clients develop a plan for their reintegration into mainstream society. They then move into the MICA program’s supervised apartments for a period of six months to two years. During this time, they have access to weekly support groups and community dinners, individual counseling, and they can either start working, go back to school, or do some volunteer work.
Since clients are completing the residential program more quickly, there are more people moving into MICA’s supervised apartments. To deal with the demand, the program has acquired a fourth supervised apartment. Aftercare follow-up is provided for an undetermined period of time, depending on each individual’s needs.
“The MICA Program has always had a high retention rate, but the new structure is really helping to efficiently prepare clients for the residential program and to increase their commitment to the rehabilitation process,” concludes Mr. Maturo.