Reducing the Harms Caused by Homelessness

Reducing the Harms Caused by Homelessness

Reducing the Harms Caused by Homelessness

Reducing the Harms Caused by Homelessness

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Established in 1986, Street Health is a non-profit, community-based organization working to improve the health and wellbeing of the homeless and under-housed population in Toronto.

We strive every day to address the systemic barriers to health through accessible services, education and advocacy based on the principles of harm reduction.

 

Services

Services

People experiencing homelessness are suffering due to a lack of adequate primary health care and community mental health services, shortages of affordable housing, insufficient income support, and stigmatization.

To help improve our client’s well-being, and respect their right to self-determination, Street Health offers the following services:

NURSING

Street Health’s Nursing team, includes Registered Nurses (RN) and a Nurse Practitioner (NP) to provide primary care. Clients are seen on a drop-in basis and do not require a health card. High demand services include: wound care, crisis and supportive counselling, help accessing shelter and dispensing over the counter medication. Nurses also assist clients with referrals, appointments and service coordination.

MENTAL HEALTH

Mental Health Workers provide long-term, intensive case management support for people who are living with mental health challenges and are either homeless or precariously housed.

Clients are assigned a worker who provides support in accessing and maintaining basic needs including: healthcare, income supports, shelter and legal assistance. Staff provide accessible and flexible support often further reducing barriers by meeting with clients at a convenient community location.

HARM REDUCTION

Harm Reduction means the policies, programs, and practices that reduce negative health, social, and economic consequences from the use of both legal and illegal drugs. All Street Health services are offered within a harm reduction framework, we meet people “where they are” and respect each client’s right to self-determination.

Harm Reduction staff support marginalized populations who, due to stigma and discrimination, may avoid healthcare providers. Staff also help identify and provide advocacy concerning broader social determinants of health.

IDENTIFICATION (ID)

Getting and keeping identification is difficult for those who are on the street or in the shelter system. Theft and lacking a secure place to store ID mean clients often have no identification.

The Identification Service helps people obtain an Ontario Health Card and, when necessary, apply for a birth certificate or proof of legal status. These documents then support application for a social insurance number.

SUPPLIES AND REFERRALS

Street Health’s Client Services is the first point of contact. Many clients require personal care, hygiene and harm reduction supplies which are provided free of charge upon request. This reliable source of basic necessities enables frontline staff to build relationships with clients to support information sharing and referrals to additional services, both at Street Health and at other local service providers.

OVERDOSE PREVENTION SITE

Street Health’s OPS is a safe, hygienic environment for people to inject pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of trained staff. We provide sterile injection supplies, education, overdose prevention and intervention, as well as referrals to services at Street Health and other agencies. Naloxone kits as well as training and sterile drug use equipment are always available.

SERVICE PARTNERSHIPS

To prevent the duplication of services, Street Health welcomes the opportunity to work in partnership with other service providers. We are happy to bring a harm reduction focus and our staff expertise to services being delivered by other community groups. Current Service Partnerships include harm reduction outreach workers at the COVID Hotels/respites and client support workers with St. Clare’s Housing.

Street Health’s Nursing team, includes Registered Nurses (RN) and a Nurse Practitioner (NP) to provide primary care. Clients are seen on a drop-in basis and do not require a health card. High demand services include: wound care, crisis and supportive counselling, help accessing shelter and dispensing over the counter medication. Nurses also assist clients with referrals, appointments and service coordination.

Mental Health Workers provide long-term, intensive case management support for people who are living with mental health challenges and are either homeless or precariously housed.

Clients are assigned a worker who provides support in accessing and maintaining basic needs including: healthcare, income supports, shelter and legal assistance. Staff provide accessible and flexible support often further reducing barriers by meeting with clients at a convenient community location.

Harm Reduction means the policies, programs, and practices that reduce negative health, social, and economic consequences from the use of both legal and illegal drugs. All Street Health services are offered within a harm reduction framework, we meet people “where they are” and respect each client’s right to self-determination.

Harm Reduction staff support marginalized populations who, due to stigma and discrimination, may avoid healthcare providers. Staff also help identify and provide advocacy concerning broader social determinants of health.

Getting and keeping identification is difficult for those who are on the street or in the shelter system. Theft and lacking a secure place to store ID mean clients often have no identification.

The Identification Service helps people obtain an Ontario Health Card and, when necessary, apply for a birth certificate or proof of legal status. These documents then support application for a social insurance number.

Street Health’s Client Services is the first point of contact. Many clients require personal care, hygiene and harm reduction supplies which are provided free of charge upon request. This reliable source of basic necessities enables frontline staff to build relationships with clients to support information sharing and referrals to additional services, both at Street Health and at other local service providers.

Street Health’s OPS is a safe, hygienic environment for people to inject pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of trained staff. We provide sterile injection supplies, education, overdose prevention and intervention, as well as referrals to services at Street Health and other agencies. Naloxone kits as well as training and sterile drug use equipment are always available.

To prevent the duplication of services, Street Health welcomes the opportunity to work in partnership with other service providers. We are happy to bring a harm reduction focus and our staff expertise to services being delivered by other community groups. Current Service Partnerships include harm reduction outreach workers at the COVID Hotels/respites and client support workers with St. Clare’s Housing.

What Our Clients Say

Street Health Staff understand the challenges I face. Now I’m in a good place with my coping skills and being involved in things that are meaningful.

Janice

Without Safe injection Sites, overdoses across the city would increase, and it would put people, myself included in a precarious situation, being able to use substances under the careful supervision of trained staff, with no judgment but friendly and support makes a world of difference for the health of the community.

René

Street Health is a lifeline for me, if I can’t get a hold of my Dr. I can come here I don’t have to make appointments, and I don’t have to wait 6 hours in the hospital. 

D

The AcuDetox; I was quite surprised by the benefits I was getting, my thoughts were calmed instead of getting excited I was able to approach things with a calmer demeanor. My drug cravings have also had a slight curb if not an actual change. I feel excited about this and wonder why it’s not more available I really think it would be a great tool in helping others curb their addictions or problems. 

H.P

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