AHS Indigenous support line launches in Central Alberta

Indigenous peoples in the Central Zone of Alberta Health Services (AHS) now have access to a support line to help them navigate the health system.

The toll-free Indigenous Support Line can be reached by calling 1-844-944-4744 or by dialing 811, #2, #7. The support line is staffed by Indigenous Health Link staff, who will answer callers’ questions, help them access culturally appropriate care and support and assist them with navigating the healthcare system. The line is available weekdays from noon to 8 p.m. Clients can call at any point in their healthcare journey with questions or concerns.

“The Indigenous Support Line is creating a brave space where our people can speak their truth, a place where they can feel supported asking for guidance and help navigating a complex healthcare system,” says Casey Eagle Speaker, Co-Chair of the AHS Wisdom Council.

The new service is an expansion of the Indigenous Support Line launched in June 2022 in the AHS North Zone and in May 2023 in South Zone. Since then, staff have taken more than 2,000 calls. In a follow-up survey with clients who used the line, every respondent said they felt respected and supported by the person who assisted them, and more than 97 per cent said they would use the line again and would recommend the line to friends and family.

The AHS Wisdom Council & Elder Circle played a key role in the creation of the Indigenous Support Line in the North Zone, providing strong guidance and advice to AHS throughout the creation and launch of the project. They continue to encourage AHS to expand the service across the province to better support Indigenous peoples in their wellness journey.

“The support line connects individuals with someone who listens with patience, spirituality, acceptance, caring and empathy,” says Wisdom Council co-chair Cheryl Sheldon. “Those phone conversations build a deeper understanding of the difficulties Indigenous clients face and it makes a difference, it matters to them, and they feel like they matter to AHS.”

All Albertans are asked to call 911 if they have a medical emergency. Health Link (811) also remains available 24/7 for non-emergency health-related questions.

AHS values Indigenous culture and the unique needs of individuals, patients and families and is incorporating traditional culture into the healthcare system. For more information, please visit the Indigenous Support Line webpage or you can watch this video featuring staff from the Indigenous Support Line. Dedicated AHS Indigenous Wellness Core staff is available throughout the province and take into consideration culturally appropriate health services for First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Our mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans. Our current focus is on reducing emergency department wait-times, improving EMS response times, increasing access to surgeries, and improving patient flow.

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Thank you for joining us to celebrate the 2023 National Indigenous Peoples Month. Visit Alberta Health Services' Indigenous Health Program  to learn more.

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