Improving health-care tools and services
A new trauma-informed substance use assessment tool – created by and for Indigenous communities across Ontario to improve health services delivery – will be the focus of a research project led by Aboriginal Engagement and Outreach in CAMH’s Provincial System Support Program.
The need to develop a new assessment tool came from Indigenous leaders and service providers through a dialogue CAMH hosted in 2013, which explored the use of screening, assessment and outcome-based tools with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, says Dr. Renee Linklater, a member of Rainy River First Nations and Director of Aboriginal Engagement and Outreach. “There is a lack of both culturally appropriate and trauma-informed substance use and addiction treatment tools for Indigenous peoples.”
More than 200 individuals, including Indigenous leaders and staff members from service providers across Ontario worked together to create the tool. “People were incredibly engaged and committed to bringing forward the knowledge and expertise that exists within Indigenous communities,” says Dr. Linklater. The project was supported by the Ontario Drug Treatment Funding Program.
CAMH's Krystine Abel (left) and Dr. Renee Linklater (right) of Aboriginal Engagement and Outreach meet with staff at Enaahtig Healing Lodge and Learning Centre in Victoria Harbour
The new assessment tool for First Nations, Inuit and Métis will gather essential information to identify the appropriate healing pathway, and compile addiction referral information. The tool will also collect important systems-level data that will inform health-care services planning province-wide, says Dr. Linklater.
Both Indigenous and mainstream service providers will be invited to pilot and test the tool, and the study will evaluate its effectiveness. The team is seeking funding for this phase of the project.
“There’s a need to expand our understanding of evaluation from an Indigenous context,” says Dr. Linklater. “For example, there may be a difference in outcome indicators that we need to be mindful of.
“We also need to present our work in a way that is not only respectful, but purposeful, to ensure that Indigenous communities benefit,” she says.
In other initiatives, ECHO Ontario First Nations, Inuit and Métis Wellness, a collaboration between CAMH and the University of Toronto, is a televideo-based mentoring program to increase capacity to address the health-care needs of Indigenous patients and communities. CAMH's Clinical Outreach and Aboriginal Engagement and Outreach teams are partnering to provide clinical expertise and to evaluate the program, through Co-Leads Dr. Allison Crawford, Dr. Renee Linklater and Eva Serhal of CAMH and Dr. Lisa Richardson of the University of Toronto.