Our journey towards excellence in Aboriginal Health care delivery begins with improving our physical and cultural environments to reflect the expressed values, practices and traditions of Aboriginal communities.
For many people living in First Nation communities across Northwestern Ontario, coming to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) for medical treatment is their first trip to Thunder Bay. Adjusting to the big city away from friends and family can be difficult, especially for those whose first language is not English. TBRHSC is committed to enhancing experiences for Aboriginal patients and families.
Aboriginal Patient Navigators provide a number of services for Aboriginal patients, including: interpretive services in Cree, Ojibway, and Oji-Cree; support before, during, and after clinical appointments; linking patients and families to community resources; tele-visitation services with remote family members; information and education in a culturally-sensitive manner; liaison and advocate between the care team, patients, and families; and assistance with discharge planning.
Currently, Aboriginal Patient Navigators are assisting patients in the Emergency Department, Renal Services, Centre for Complex Diabetes Care, Supportive Care, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
TBRHSC also recognizes the need to develop facilities that are culturally welcoming for patients and families with Aboriginal artwork and stories throughout the facility.
One of the most recent artistic additions to the facility is a triptych by Thunder Bay artist Cree Stevens donated to the Regional Cancer Care Northwest at TBRHSC. The artist says it feels good to know that people have had positive reactions to the painting and she is honoured and humbled to have it on display at Regional Cancer Care Northwest. “I’ve known a lot of people in my life who have battled cancer. It feels good that I might be helping patients and families feel something. Of all the places it could have gone, it touches me that it can be in a place where people are pretty contemplative about their lives.”
There are no easy solutions, but it’s good to see that TBRHSC is taking the initiative and developing that partnership, not only with the Aboriginal Advisory Committee, but with the larger Aboriginal community in Thunder Bay.
– Jason Beardy, member of TBRHSC’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee
Aboriginal Health goals have been realized in large part thanks to TBRHSC’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee whose role is to advise the organization how best to meet the health care needs of Aboriginal patients and their families in a culturally sensitive and safe manner.
Jason Beardy, Director of Health Policy & Planning and Special Reports for the Nishnawbe Aski-Nation, is one of the 25 members of the committee. He says through initiatives such as establishing an Aboriginal Advisory Committee, TBRHSC is demonstrating its willingness to address Aboriginal health issues.
“There are no easy solutions, but it’s good to see that TBRHSC is taking the initiative and developing that partnership, not only with the Aboriginal Advisory Committee, but with the larger Aboriginal community in Thunder Bay.”
Finding your way around the Health Sciences Centre can be intimidating, especially for those whose first language isn’t English. New pictogram wayfinding signage at the entrance to the Health Sciences Centre is assisting people in getting where they need to go, thanks to a Volunteer Association/Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation Family CARE grant plus additional grant funding. New signs incorporate symbols, along with words to help visitors locate services throughout the facility, lessening anxiety and making a visit to the Health Sciences Centre a more pleasant experience.
Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is committed to improving our physical and cultural environments to reflect the expressed values, practices and traditions of Aboriginal communities. The Aboriginal Advisory Council acts in an advisory capacity with the main purpose of implementing the Aboriginal Health Strategic Direction of TBRHSC’s strategic plan.
The Aboriginal Advisory Committee plays an important role in helping us to ensure that research includes participation from our Aboriginal population and that we engage in culturally relevant and supported research projects. Earlier this year, members of TBRHSC’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee participated in a panel discussion “Approaching and Engaging Aboriginal Communities in Clinical Research” as part of TBRRI’s annual retreat.
Click here to learn more about Aboriginal health goals & activities at TBRHSC.