Safe Haven

adapted from information prepared by Capital Care



Safe Haven Program



The CAPITAL CARE Group developed a unique program for older adults who have made drinking alcohol a lifestyle choice. The Safe Haven Program at CAPITAL CARE Norwood in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada provides a safe, non-judgmental environment for residents with a history of chronic alcohol use. It is based on a social model of care with an emphasis on harm reduction. It is not a rehabilitation program.


With nearly forty years of experience in continuing care and currently 1,800 clients,  CAPITAL CARE Group understood that it could sometimes be difficult to integrate individuals whose lifestyles and behaviors were related to chronic alcohol use, into traditional continuing care facilities. Recognizing this, the Safe Haven Program was designed to allow residents to be themselves. In addition to being a separate care unit, having staff who accept the behaviors and lifestyles of residents helps reduce incidents of disruption to other residents in the Centre and the Long Term Care system.


Opened in 1994, Safe Haven provides care to 27 residents. Recreation and Social Work Services are enhanced for this unit. People who need continuing care, who have a history of chronic alcohol use and are actively drinking, are eligible for the Program. To remain in the Program, residents must adhere to three rules:

        Smoke only in designated areas

        Pay bills in advance

        No physical violence


In addition to drinking and behavioural problems, Safe Haven residents have many other related health problems that require care and supervision. Although physical care needs are heavy for some residents, overall they tend to be lighter than most traditional care centre residents. Generally over time, resident care needs reduce as their health improves. Many do not have strong family support. Most are cognitively alert and able to express their needs and opinions. Recreation and Social Work Services are enhanced for this unit.


Currently, 90 per cent of Safe Havenís residents are male. Residents come from a variety of backgrounds and occupations, including police officers, business owners/managers, labourers, housewives, substance abuse counsellors, as well as people in the hospitality industry such as bartenders or food and beverage servers. A number of residents have lived in Edmontonís inner city where CAPITAL CARE Norwood is located. This location ensures that those residents who are able to go into the community have access to a familiar neighbourhood.


The residents also benefit from The CAPITAL CARE Group initiative to make older Centres more homelike. There are several comfortable lounges and eating areas, which give residents the choice of where and with whom they socialize. Residents thoroughly enjoy the kitchen that is used for baking and cooking programs. They can also smoke on the unit in designated smoking areas.


The CAPITAL CARE Group reviews programs regularly to ensure program goals are being met. The Safe Haven Program review noted that residents had experienced several benefits, including improved health, decreased problem behaviours and decreased alcohol consumption. The program has helped reduce disruptions to regular long-term care units, and families of residents have reduced stress and are very appreciative of the program. Staff who elect to work on the unit express a high level of job satisfaction.


For more information on Safe Haven, contact:



10410 Ė 111 Avenue

Edmonton, Alberta

T5G 3A2



Page lasted updated October 4, 2005.

Questions? Comments? Contact Webmaster: 


Return to

Alcohol and Seniors Home Page