By: Sarah Peddle, Service Learning Program Manager, Dalhousie Medical School
The global community is in unprecedented times. As the Program Manager for the Service Learning Program, I mindfully consider the impacts on our students and the communities they are involved in as part of this program. We are navigating new ways of engaging and identifying plans with students to complete their community-based experiences.
The Service Learning Program matches second year medical students with not-for-profit community-based organizations. The program requires students to spend time in the community from September to December and deliver a small project with the organization from January to April. Many students were able to complete their service learning experience off-site with the support of their community partner.
This pandemic, while full of challenges, has provided time to pause and consider how we work and how we engage with each other. I reached out to our community partners and asked them to share how COVID-19 has impacted their organization and the clients that they serve. Here are some of their insights.
Summary provided by Dr. Shelley Doucet, Co-Director
NaviCare/SoinsNavi is a research-based navigation centre for children/youth aged 25 years or younger with complex care needs and their families in New Brunswick. Our nurse patient navigator has continued to offer support by coordinating patient care, connecting clients to resources that are still available, directing clients to virtual services where possible, being a resource for the team, and informing families about COVID-19 related services and other services available to meet their needs. The need for resources and education in the community has increased during the pandemic. We moved all in-person outreach activities and meetings to online settings. We encourage children/youth, families and care providers to reach out for support during this difficult time.
Summary provided by Nik Harris, Community Engagement Coordinator, Maritimes:
Arthritis Society employees are temporarily working-from-home across the country during this time, actively continuing to support the 6-million Canadians living with arthritis. Our focus shifted to highlighting new and existing online-based supports to the arthritis community.
- Developed a COVID-19 website hub www.arthritis.ca/covid19
- Two online webinars regarding COVID-19 and Arthritis, providing evidence-based answers to the many questions we receive from community members. www.arthritis.ca/arthritistalks
- Tools available on our website including Self-Management Learning Modules (www.arthritis.ca/education), our wellness blog Flourish (www.arthritis.ca/flourish), and additional resources on our content hub (www.arthritis.ca/resources)
Summary provided by Jenn Ross, Director of Operations:
At Brigadoon Village, we are offering virtual programming to our campers and families
- BrigaBroadcast – twice a week virtual session on Zoom for our campers
- Brigadoon Leadership – Campers sign up for a 4 week program to participate on weekly leadership sessions (to replace our cancelled March Break Leadership Camp)
- Briga At Home – Activities posted on our social media and website for people to participate in on their own time – https://brigadoonvillage.org/camps/brigaathome/
Summary provided by Melanie Vautour, Executive Director:
Fresh Start Services provides support for women and children in crisis situations. The biggest impact for our agency and our clients has been social distancing for our homeless and sex workers. We closed our office because we could not guarantee distancing and cleaning methods with walk-in traffic. We are providing more mental health support and re-assurances that we still care and are trying to protect THEM from US as we are more apt to introduce the virus to them. We are also advocating with landlords and tenants to advocate for flexible policies to support our clients.
Imagine this pandemic experience without your cell phone, computer and internet to connect with people and services. Imagine being unstably housed and all services and community access points are closed. There is growing research that is exploring the impact of the determinants of health throughout the pandemic.
For more information, follow the important work of the National Collaborating Centre for the Determinants of Health with weekly panel discussions on equity related issues. http://nccdh.ca/blog/entry/stigma-discrimination-health-impacts-and-covid-19
Stay safe and take care of each other.