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One of the teams working on the Reducing the Impacts of Financial Strain (RIFS) project has received a Patient Experience Award from the Health Quality Council of Alberta.
This annual award goes to initiatives that improve the way patients receive healthcare services. It’s a daunting mandate, but RIFS fits the bill perfectly. Since income is one of the most powerful determinants of health, RIFS has enormous potential to give people in Alberta a better experience throughout their health journeys.
The award recognizes the contributions of one RIFS team, the Life Medical Clinic and the McLeod River Primary Care Network (PCN). They embedded screening questions that uncover the patient’s full picture, open up life-changing conversations and establish relevant community connections.
Asking a simple question like, “Do you ever have trouble making ends meet?” can spark dialogue that helps providers get a holistic view of the patient and use a broader socio-economic context to offer support. Providers can then connect patients to the right community services at the right time.
Informing this work was a collaborative effort by the RIFS team to understand what matters most to the patient and how their social needs impact their health. The end goal? To create a safe space for conversations about finances and health.
A key member of the team, Dr. Joseph Ojedokun of the McLeod River PCN, echoes the importance of open conversations about contextual issues like financial strain: “Ask what matters. Listen to what matters. Do what matters.”
Not surprisingly, this multidisciplinary project is backed by a diverse team, including the AHS Provincial Population and Public Health (PPPH) and Primary Health Care programs and their Strategic Clinical and Integration (PHC IN) Networks, and the Alberta Medical Association (AMA).
The clinic and PCN together with Zone level Public Health was part of a community-based multi-sectoral team that mapped out and engaged with local agencies that could provide appropriate support for each patient and for community members who may not be accessing the health system.
This team also co-designed actions that mobilized community partners to collectively identify local assets and respond to local needs, such as partnering with the local library to provide equal access to Wi-Fi and a computer lending program that aims to facilitate citizens accessing benefits, services and/or employment opportunities that promote financial wellbeing.
The RIFS project has now been piloted by three PCN-Zone-Community sites: McLeod River (North Zone), St. Albert Sturgeon (Edmonton Zone) and Kalyna Country (Central Zone). The project was co-designed locally with each clinic, PCN and community partnership.
We invite you to watch the RIFS digital stories and discuss with your team: Tara's and Lacey's narratives were developed by the Life Medical Clinic and the McLeod River PCN. You’ll see how reducing financial strain, in partnership with community, can change patients’ lives for the better.
You can also listen to Tara, Lacey and Dr. Joseph share their experiences as part of a panel of presenters in the ChangeMaker webinar. Join us in congratulating this team for their Patient Experience Award!
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There are so many inspiring stories of communities working together and showing kindness. Tell us what your community has done to support those dealing with financial strain. Many communities and organizations have put together ways that individuals and families can get local, provincial and federal support. Check it out
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What resources and services are in your community that help people with the stresses and financial challenges of COVID-19? What provincial and federal programs have you leveraged or heard are helpful? Share what has helped you and what would be helpful?
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An inclusive community with no service barriers or bias and has increased integration and collaboration to maximize the level of supports to community members are just some of the hopes and dreams of 21 Whitecourt community members that attended the first RIFS coalition meeting in September.When they dreamed of Whitecourt's financial wellness in two years here are some of their thoughts: Families adjusting to lower income levels; Alternative safe housing for our at risk teens; Children that do not shoulder financial strain; No limits set on children/youth due to finances; Affordable housing for everyone who needs it, when they need it; Healthy food for all; More part-time meaningful employment opportunities for those with barriers.
They hope that working together on RIFS, will lead to greater understanding of community and social services, financial education, positive attitudes towards those who are struggling, interconnection between support services, and engagement of community members. Check out the meeting summary. Do their hopes and dreams ring true for you?