‘We reach them where they are:’ Mobile healing team delivers culturally based care

Jane Harrison is among the unrecognized heroes of the pandemic who, along with her team, is bringing care to susceptible, underserved communities in the Greater Toronto Location. Harrison and Anishnawbe Health Toronto developed a mobile recovery team to bring resources to those in need.

Q: Why was it essential to create a mobile recovery team?

With our mobile group, were able to go out to where our Indigenous individuals are. We deliver culturally based care so that our people are getting care and cultural support. We go to the encampments, food banks and all the non-profit Indigenous real estate where we can reach everyone. Since whether were in a pandemic or not, (there are) barriers to reaching us at Anishnawbe Health Toronto; a great deal of it is an absence of the ability to take a trip. So, we moved the model and we said, well well reach them where they are.

A: We (Indigenous peoples) are over-represented in the homeless population; 16 per cent of people on the streets are Indigenous. And a bigger number are underhoused or transient. We needed to reach individuals where they are because they are individuals who are most underserved and vulnerable.

Q: How does this initiative satisfy the requirements of city Indigenous communities?

The factor is that if we require to discover somebody and theyre positive, we need to move quickly since they are transient and not in stable environments and we require to find environments for them, which we do. We find them, attach them to the encouraging hotels and then we likewise do follow-up for our customers who are Indigenous and need other services.

Were likewise doing vaccines. We did our very first round in January with our senior citizens at Wigwamen Terrace and were going back next Tuesday to do our second.

A: We supply post-testing supports for our Indigenous susceptible populations and other vulnerable populations, influenza vaccines, COVID-19 testing and main care. Right now, were really concentrated on (COVID-19 testing) since of the waves and the number of people we need to reach out to extremely quickly.

Q: What was the process like to get the collaborate and running?

And now we have 2 groups doing this work. Its actually fun. Everyone works truly well together, and we all have the exact same passion which is to care for our susceptible Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, to reach them where they are, to break the barriers to access COVID-19 testing and also to build relationships with them and break their seclusion.

A: Were Anishnawbe Health; weve been working in a cumulative environment for thousands of years, so it wasnt a new experience. Im honoured to be out there and working with this team.

Q: What is your role with the mobile team?

You know its challenging for people. I have a masters in neighborhood nursing and in social work and am registered as a psychotherapist so I utilize a lot of my skills and knowledge of the social work structure and my Indigenous understanding to help individuals walk this journey since it can be really, truly tense.

I do a lot of education due to the fact that a lot of people can not go on websites for info or they find the sites frustrating. I also work with all of the family. I make sure they have the right details because there is so much details out there that is not fix.

Often I go out with the group but not constantly. My function is to collaborate and handle the mobile recovery group– nurse specialists, social employees, registered nurses, Indigenous assistants and administrative assistant motorists.

Q: How do you create culturally safe procedures?

A: We are Indigenous, so I believe its an offered. I struggle with that security thing. I believe it may be better to talk about sharing area, respecting Indigenous space.

Q: What drives you to do this work?

A: Being out in our community where individuals are susceptible and need us, that drives me. I discover so much from my Anishnawbe family and individuals. Going into the encampments and offering back to them and letting people know that they matter.

Q: How are you coping on the frontlines of the pandemic?

A: We laugh a lot. We do a lot of supporting each other. And we talk a lot.

Q: What do you want individuals to learn about the work you do?

A: We are out there as a mobile team to meet people when they need it and where they need it. We want people to be conscious that they need to open their eyes and see the other world, see people who are living in precarious environments.

A: We (Indigenous individuals) are over-represented in the homeless population; 16 per cent of people on the streets are Indigenous. We required to reach individuals where they are since they are the people who are most susceptible and underserved.

With our mobile team, were able to go out to where our Indigenous individuals are. A: We are out there as a mobile team to fulfill people when they need it and where they need it. We desire individuals to be conscious that they require to open their eyes and see the other world, see people who are living in precarious environments.

This entire pandemic is not good, I wouldnt wish it upon any of us, however it has actually brought individuals more detailed together in terms of acknowledging relationships

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