Caring for Vulnerable populations

Six graduate students from the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology at the University of Toronto recently concluded a two-month community placement with Street Health. The goal was to integrate the student’s theoretical knowledge into real-world experience and create a list of best practices for healthcare and social workers when aiding people who are experiencing homelessness and/or using substances. Students worked with community advisors who have lived experience with substance use and expertise in harm reduction strategies. The advisors fostered a positive working relationship between the students and the homeless/substance-using population. Emphasis was placed on working with those who have lived experience because far too often policies and recommendations are created without proper consultation of this stakeholder group, leading to further discrimination and barriers to care Stigma and discrimination can manifest as judgment from healthcare providers, resulting in a lack of access to harm reduction interventions and dismissive disciplinary policies. Reports like the one produced, stress the importance of community involvement in healthcare practices as well as requiring the training of health providers on the needs of people who use drugs. The student’s recommendations centered around improving the physical space where patients are seen, optimizing service delivery, building strong relationships, and promoting diversity and inclusion where care is given. The tip sheets produced in conjunction with Street Health are resources for healthcare or community workers and answer a growing demand for evidence-based harm reduction measures. Street Health is proud to help educate and work with students to ensure services are accessible and relevant to all communities.

Click Here to read the complete list of recommendations 

Sarah Geahchanζ , Payton Midgleyζ , Aamna Naeemζ , Hussain Sookotξ , Iye Sannehξ , Richard Daltonξ , MaryKay MacVicarξ ζ University of Toronto, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology ξ Street Health, 338 Dundas Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 2A1