Health Minister Terry Lake today announced funding of $150,000 to ASK Wellness Society to continue the support of a partnership between the society and Royal Inland Hospital (RIH), which connects vulnerable people with supports after release from the hospital.
“We have a strong vision for the future of health care in British Columbia, which includes a focus on supporting those with chronic disease, substance use and mental health challenges,” said Lake. “The services ASK Wellness Society is providing to some of our most vulnerable citizens show how supports at the community level can really make a world of difference for patients.”
A health navigator connects people being discharged from the hospital with basic services to support their recovery. Starting with a call from the hospital’s social workers, people can get assistance with housing, transportation and health care in the community. Such care could include wound care, medical tests or managing chronic diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C.
“This program is an excellent example of how health care and community services can wrap around a person and more fully support their recovery,” said Todd Stone, MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson. “For some people, this assistance to navigate our community’s services becomes a springboard for healthier choices for the future.”
Addressing vulnerable people’s health needs early and in the community can also reduce emergency room visits and costs to the health-care system. Between April 1 and Sept. 30, 2015, 84 clients in the Kamloops area were supported through the Health Navigator program.
“Linking people to affordable and suitable housing upon discharge from hospital is essential for the successful transition to community. It is a part of our streets to homes to health to employment continuum of programs,” said Bob Hughes, executive director for ASK Wellness Society.
The foundation of ASK Wellness’ partnership with RIH aligns with Ministry of Health priorities for the B.C. health system. These priorities support a provincial system of primary care built around patients, with inter-professional teams designed to improve outcomes and quality of life by connecting people to community services rather than treating symptoms at a hospital.
“We are pleased with this partnership developed through the ASK Wellness’s health navigator,” says Kris Kristjanson, RIH health services director. “Having a single point of contact to work with allows us to streamline the discharge process from hospital, to ensure this most vulnerable population is linked with housing and transportation, as well as access to the community services they require when their care at RIH is complete.”
“The health navigator can really help people living at risk or without a home get the supports they need to better manage chronic diseases and health needs,” said Pamela Pickering, health navigator for ASK Wellness Society. “I am honoured to have this job – sometimes it’s getting prescription glasses for a client or taking them to a medical appointment so they are not alone when they hear a life altering diagnosis, but each of these supports can make a big impact in the quality of a person’s life.”
ASK Wellness operates locally in Kamloops and Merritt, and is dedicated to helping vulnerable people or people managing chronic health conditions by improving awareness, education, advocacy, housing and supports. As part of their mandate, ASK Wellness has operated the Crossroads Inn and Henry Leland House in Kamloops for six years, providing affordable housing and supports to individuals with histories of homelessness or other vulnerabilities that affect their engagement in health care.
The Province’s strategic priorities for delivering health-care services include supporting the health and well-being of B.C. residents, delivering a system of responsive and effective health-care services for patients across British Columbia and ensuring the best value for taxpayer money.
To learn more about the ASK Wellness Society, please visit: www.askwellness.ca
To learn more about Setting Priorities for the B.C. Health System, please visit: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2014/Setting-priorities-BC-Health-Feb14.pdf