A two phased project. In phase one, a comprehensive survey was developed and offered to PWUD (People Who Use Drugs) using simple recruitment strategies and an honorarium. The goal was to see if PWUD were offered the right services at the right time and place. Was service accessible? Were providers helpful? Were there barriers? We had exceptional survey uptake. Themes emerged that informed planning for phase two action. Groundwork was laid for goals, group cohesion, rules, boundaries, times and meeting locations set, incentives offered and therapeutic relationships made. PWUD were engaged with hope that relationships and connections with each other and with the providers would grow and lead to action items that would be beneficial to peer needs.
Phase two started with 10 peers that became the Flin Flon Peer Working Group (FFPWG). They reviewed action areas identified through the survey, prioritized five, and work began. During the meetings and beyond, there have been changes and improvements for PWUD including improved access to HR services, messaging for community about stigma, and increased access/comfort with seeking healthcare services.
HR distribution extended to Emergency departments in all communities in Northern Health Region (NHR). Messaging was offered to ER providers addressing stigma. In the training and service extension we shared that this was client driven initiative which resonated and had better uptake with service providers. Even those initially resistant to offering needle supply and HR service. The existing NHR HR policy was reinvigorated and an HR Referral Form developed to better service clients who move between acute and community services.
- Organized/held a community needle clean up done completely by peers
- Developed peer education materials
- Created better access to supplies and increased peer to peer distribution. Proposed a vending machine/locker distribution for increased access site and times. This hasn’t been proposed anywhere else in Manitoba and is currently in written stage format with consideration by executive leadership in NHR.
- Made plans for what a safe consumption site could look like.
- Pride developed in ability to affect change for their needs. Ideas and resources have been shared through the Region/Province.