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First private mental health residential centre opens

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Dignity House Opening: Kimberley Ball-Darceuil and Nicholas Ball cut the ribbon at Bermuda's first private residential mental health treatment centre with health minister Kim Wilson, left, and social development and seniors minister Tinée Furbert (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A couple devoted to helping people beat mental health problems celebrated the achievement of their dream as they cut the ribbon on Bermuda’s first private residential treatment centre.

Nicholas Darceuil and Kimberley Ball-Darceuil opened Dignity House in Pembroke and said they looked forward to taking in up to nine patients later this month at the house overlooking North Shore.

Mr Darceuil, a registered nurse at the Bermuda Hospitals Board, said: “There are a lot of people out there who have lost hope so many times and given up on who they really are – this is an opportunity to reach them and give them hope.”

The couple have applied for several grants and plan to use fees from self-funded clients – including people from overseas – to help homeless and vulnerable patients unable to meet the cost of treatment.

Ms Ball-Darceuil has worked with the Department of Health, including on the Government’s HIV programme.

Mr Darceuil said the inspiration for Dignity House came after his wife met “a very distraught patient on the steps of City Hall that the system could not help”.

“We sat down together that evening and started to plan for Dignity House.”

Ms Ball-Darceuil added: “It was out of a basic frustration at the inability to help someone else – from seeing a need and deciding to be a part of the solution.

“When we found this place, we knew it was perfect. Bermuda is so beautiful, and that beauty can be used therapeutically.”

Tinée Furbert, the social development and seniors minister, speaks at the opening of Dignity House (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Ms Ball-Darceuil will work from the premises and her husband will work part-time after it becomes operational on March 28.

The couple said they would use their experience in mental health treatment to provide clients with psychiatric and psychological help, occupational and recreational therapy, counselling and nursing.

Guests applaud at the opening of Dignity House, Bermuda's first private residential rehabilitation treatment centre (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

They emphasised that Dignity House was not an addiction treatment service, but Mr Darceuil said it had the potential to help people who struggled with a dual diagnosis of mental health problems and addiction.

The opening ceremony was attended by Kim Wilson, the health minister and Tinée Furbert, the social development and seniors minister.

Ms Wilson, who said she had worked with Ms Ball-Darceuil through the ministry, praised the “valuable addition to our healthcare system”.

She added: “This will enhance our community and change the lives of vulnerable persons who need help.”

Ms Furbert said it was “a great step forward for Bermuda in supporting those with complex mental health needs.”

She said Dignity House would bring hope to “those who have been ostracised and pushed away in the past”.

Dignity House will accommodate clients according to their needs – with stays possible for six months to a year.

Victoria Manning, a retired nurse, highlighted the home’s motto – “restore, improve, empower” as she delivered the keynote address at the opening ceremony.

She added: “These three strong words that we find here are the sole aim of this new facility.

“Kimberley and Nicholas thought of this idea through the concern and frustration of seeing so many people on the street, homeless, distressed and agitated and their loss of dignity.”

Ms Manning said the model used at Dignity House would guide clients towards independence and ensure patient-centred care.

She added: “We do not know their back stories – and there’s always a back story.”

Mr Darceuil said the couple had been approached last week by a distressed man who had spent the last month sleeping rough in a park.

He added: “As we looked at him, we remembered why Dignity House exists – to help those that can’t help themselves, or who need help following their Mid Atlantic Wellness Institute admission so they can live the life they want to live.”

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Published March 22, 2022 at 7:36 am (Updated March 22, 2022 at 7:37 am)

First private mental health residential centre opens

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