Aventa is a women-only facility located in Calgary, Canada. It’s only 50 miles from the Canadian Rockies in the residential neighborhood of Cliff Bungalow, with a program designed specifically for those suffering from trauma (though they also keep expectant mothers and young adults a priority by offering them separate, individualized treatment tracks). Aventa is well known in the Calgary area and at one point had a four-month waiting list; fortunately, it’s since opened up a second building to meet the demand. Reverend George Whitford of the Trinity United Church opened Aventa in 1970 after receiving a donation from local philanthropists Mr. and Mrs. R.J. Robb. The facility was originally a halfway house run by volunteers, but quickly outgrew its modest beginnings. After securing long-term financial backing from the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, Aventa developed further programs to treat addiction and trauma. It’s now been open for over 24 years and has treated more than 25,000 women.
Accommodations and Food
Aventa’s intensive inpatient building has a capacity of 16, but there are no private rooms, and each client has between one to two roommates. Bedrooms feature dark hardwood floors with plenty of natural light, and a plus is that all have quite a bit of storage space in the form of dressers and wardrobes. Every day, residents get three square meals served buffet style. Breakfast is often a choice between waffles, cereal or yogurt, while lunch can be hot soup, a salad or a sandwich. Dinner is generally a choice of hot meats like chicken or fish, and hot sides like rice, pasta or vegetables.
Treatment and Staff
Aventa does not offer detox. Counseling sessions generally focus on past trauma and any other relevant mental health issues clients may have, with support for those with dual diagnosis issues. Residents attend AA on Sundays, as well as ABA (Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous) on Wednesdays when necessary. A typical day at Aventa begins at 6:30 am, where residents rise and head to breakfast. Between 8:30 and 11:30 am there are in-group sessions followed by lunch, a one-on-one session (a couple times a week), one of several women-centered program sessions and dinner. Lights out is at 10:30 pm. Between breaks, residents are welcome to use the telephone, with a sign-up sheet provided. The facility also offers a variety of specialized programs such as the Nobody’s Perfect Parenting Program, Momentum Financial Literacy Program, Seeking Safety Program (for PTSD and other trauma), a smoking cessation program and a gambling treatment program.
Aventa also has a separate building nearby which houses their young adult treatment program and their phase two extended care. The second facility is similar to the main one in terms of rooms and recreation, but it’s slightly larger with room for 36 residents. Staff size is about the same as well, although the staff-to-resident ratio for the Young Adult program is lower, at about two or three to one.
The young adult treatment program lasts 90 days and focuses on life skills, family counseling and recreational activities. Residents regularly meet with family counselors for individual and family sessions, attend a young adult interactive workshop which focuses on emotional boundaries, forgiveness and communication, and participate in arts and crafts, bowling, dance and cooking classes with a recreation counselor. Phase two extended care lasts three months and emphasizes education and life skills. Clients in this phase continue to receive psychiatric and medical help, and still attend 12-step meetings; all the recreational activities offered in the young adult program are also available.
On-site staff includes an executive director, a program director, a consulting psychiatrist, an RN (on-site five days a week), a physician who visits weekly, a family counselor and a few licensed group counselors. There are also two different roaming medical busses—one gynecological and one dental—that visit the facility every two weeks. Staff-to-resident ratios vary, but tend to be about four-to-one. Visitors are allowed on the weekends, but clients must get permission from staff first.
Residents at Aventa have access to an on-site gym, a yoga room and a common room with a television where they can watch movies, sing karaoke, do arts and crafts or take music lessons. The facility also keeps its doors open for alumni who want extra support by offering a Continuing Care Program. This consists of weekly counselor-led group meetings to do general recovery maintenance and work on overall well-being; these are held on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Aventa also hosts monthly Alumni Birthday Celebrations, which are open to any sober graduate.
Overall, Aventa is a solid choice for women seeking strong medical care and a warm community. The facility is well versed in gender-specific treatment through years of service, and it’s continued to grow and incorporate new treatments with changing times. Its plentiful resources and client-centered care are worth considering.
610 – 25 Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta T2S 0L6
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