Harm Reduction Support Worker (Supervised Consumption Services)

JOB TITLE: Harm Reduction Support Worker (Supervised Consumption Services)
REPORTS TO: SCS Director in collaboration with the Streetworks/GSS Program manager
HOURLY WAGE: $18.33– $21.57/hour
LOCATION: Boyle Street Community Services/George Spady Society
HOURS: Casual (Potential for P/T, F/T) Available working days, evenings, nights and weekends

 

Job Purpose:

Streetworks is a Harm Reduction, health promotion, primary health care program, which is currently seeking Harm Reduction Support Workers (HRSW) to support, educate and help ensure the safety of individuals presenting to the Supervised Consumption Services to self-inject brought-in substances. With the support of a Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurses and an Addiction Counsellor/Social Worker, the HRSW works to deliver harm reduction supplies, education and support on safer drug use and injection techniques, take home naloxone distribution, sexual health and provides referrals to other health & social services.

*Streetworks Supervised Consumption Services are offered at Boyle Street Community Services and the George Spady Society.

KEY AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Maintains a quiet, relaxed, safe space within the SCS and orients individuals to the service.
  • Seeks out opportunities to provide peer-to-peer counselling and referrals.
  • Provides education and counselling using a harm reduction approach on safer substance use, sexual health and other high-risk behaviors.
  • Advises SCS nursing staff of any SCS individual’s health concerns, either observed or voiced by the person.
  • Assists with overdose and other medical emergencies at the direction of the SCS nursing staff, including the administration of Naloxone and rescue breathing as required.
  • Provides overdose prevention education, encourages individuals to partake in take home naloxone (THN) training, completes THN training and distributes kits as required.
  • Provides an ongoing commitment to individuals within the SCS and continuously strives for the most effective and appropriate delivery of care.

Qualifications:

Skills, Abilities and Attitudes:

  • Able to work non-judgmentally with all individuals presenting to the Supervised Consumption Services. within a Harm Reduction framework
  • Knowledge, experience or willingness to learn of substance use and culture, mental health, STIs and blood borne pathogens and inner-city lifestyles
  • Demonstrated interpersonal and organizational skills
  • Ability to work in an Indigenous cultural context
  • Familiarity with local community resources (e.g. substance use, social services, justice)
  • Ability to work in a multidisciplinary team setting
  • Ability to work in partnership with other organizations
  • Flexibility, creativity, enthusiastic and a willingness to learn

Experience:

  • Experience working in a marginalized city community is an asset

Boyle Street Community Services is an equal opportunity employer. We value the diversity of the communities we serve, and are committed to engaging and developing a diverse and inclusive workforce. Boyle Street Community Services welcomes applications from First Nation, Inuit, Métis, New Canadian, differently-abled, and LGBTQ2S communities.

Those with a street history or intimate knowledge of the street are encouraged to apply. Successful candidates will be required to have a criminal record check and a child welfare information check.

To Apply:

Please email your resume and cover letter to: kwright@boylestreet.org . Please include HRSW-Boyle Street in the subject line of the email. In the cover letter please state how you heard about this position and what shifts you prefer to work.

Closing Date: Open until successful candidate found

Street Outreach

What do you do…

  • if you are located in south Edmonton, and your struggle with mental health and addictions have lead you to living on the streets?
  • if you have lost your west-end home after an injury has prevented you from working?
  • if you are a youth who has left an abusive household, and you are finding yourself on your own for the first time in your life?

Without family or peer support, you feel you have no other options but to live outside.  You do not own a vehicle.  You can maybe afford transit, but you are scared to leave your belongings unattended.  You don’t know there are services available to you, and if you do, you may be unwilling to access them due to embarrassment, fear, or a lack of trust in the systems that have mistreated you time and time again.

 

What do you do? 

Are you another person to fall through the cracks?

 

Enter Boyle Street Community Services’

Street Outreach Program.

 

Street Outreach was created in 2011 and is one of Boyle Street’s several outreach programs.  Street Outreach consists of a team that goes out into the city with the purpose to connect with people who are living rough.

Living Rough:  living and sleeping outside year-round, either on the streets or in camps in the river valley and green-spaces around the city.

In pairs of two, these teams head out on foot at 7:00 am, five days a week, donned with backpacks full of basic supplies like water bottles, socks, granola bars, and harm reduction supplies.  In the winter, this would also include gloves and toques — Yes, I said winter — Street Outreach operates year-round in response to the shocking amount of people who live outside in the dangerous, below-freezing weather conditions during the winter months.

 

Street Outreach embodies themes that resonate through all of Boyle Street’s programs:

 

Meeting People Where They Are At

The Street Outreach teams will hike the river valley, bush-wack through green space, and pound the pavement to get to their clients.  Once acquainted with a person living rough, Street Outreach does not push an agenda, and there are no qualifications needed to be met before the team can offer support.

Since January of this year, Street Outreach has made 1,828 contacts with 194 unique participants (people whose full names and birth dates are known) and 1,166 more contacts with anonymous participants.  Dependent on the client, this could mean the team provides only a bottle of water and their contact information.  There are also clients who are in want of housing, legal support, and harm reduction supplies.  In each case, the Street Outreach team supports the client in accessing the services they need.  Often this means facilitating new relationships with other Boyle Street programs.  This year alone Street Outreach has made 346 referrals to housing, 286 referrals to medical services, and 201 referrals to income services.  The interconnected nature of Street Outreach is essential to best serve their clientele.

 

Building Meaningful Relationships

Street Outreach is in the business of long-term relationship building.  Ideally, Street Outreach connects each person living rough with support services that lead them to getting housed.  So far in 2018, 28 individuals have been housed.  However, housing is not always a client’s priority, as other barriers (most commonly insufficient income, physical health issues, and mental health issues) must be addressed before secure housing can be successful.

Every person moves at a different pace, and each individual’s unique life experiences create different barriers.  Where one person might have lost all trust in others due to a lifetime of abandonment, another might have lost all faith in themselves after failing to stay housed three times previously.  Every person needs different kinds of supports; the only way to know this is by building honest, meaningful relationships, and that is what Street Outreach does.  As with any trusting relationship, this takes time and patience.  Particularly with our clients, Street Outreach must also demonstrate commitment, consistency, and treating every person with respect and dignity.

 

Harm Reduction

A cornerstone to the functioning of every Boyle Street program is harm reduction, and Street Outreach is no exception.  Being able to provide clean harm reduction supplies is the first step in connecting clients with Street Works, Boyle Street’s needle exchange, STI prevention, and overdose prevention program.

For clients who are living rough and struggle with addictions, harm reduction supplies help prevent the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C.  Providing educational resources regarding STIs and overdose prevention keeps our clients as safe and healthy as possible while involved in a high-risk living situation.  Harm reduction can also include providing a person with access to clean clothing or transportation to attend an appointment.  Each step towards a healthier and safer life is celebrated and seen as a success.

 

The Street Outreach team must be tenacious, as they face an ever-changing work environment. 

Maintaining relationships with clients can be difficult when a team can go from connecting with a handful of new clients, to finding that a known camp has been abandoned or forcibly torn down.

Most days are spent building new relationships with clients, but due to a surge in need, the Street Outreach teams are increasingly shouldering the responsibility of supporting clients through accessing and navigating services.  To accommodate this need, Street Outreach has worked hard to cultivate relationships with the City of Edmonton, the City’s Park Rangers, and utilizing Boyle Street’s relationship with Edmonton Police Services.

 

Street Outreach sees the people who the general public have grown accustomed to looking past.

 

Many Edmontonians are neighbours with our clients, literally living side by side, yet not realizing they are there.  Street Outreach challenges the idea of what homelessness looks like.  People living rough come from a diverse background of life experiences: professionals, intellectuals, trades people, etc.

 

Street Outreach is an ongoing program that exists to facilitate long-term positive changes to those who otherwise would not have access to support or services.  It is unique, relevant, important, and another service Boyle Street offers to empower people to break down the barriers attributing to homelessness.

 

~

 

There is no better way to understand the gravity of this amazing program and the resiliency of the clients until you hear a first hand account.  The following is just one of the hundreds of lives touch by Street Outreach:

 

Ashley is a 31-year-old woman who has been known to Street Outreach for several years, although throughout those years contact has been sporadic at best. As a young woman living primarily by herself, moving her camp from place to place throughout Edmonton’s river valley, Ashley lived a life focused on surviving day to day, and Street Outreach struggled to form a meaningful relationship with her. At two separate times, she was referred to a housing program, though the housing workers were unable to make contact and each time Ashley’s case was dismissed.

In the late winter of 2018, Street Outreach came across a small camp in a gulley in a ravine. The weather was frequently bouncing between warm and cold, with constant thawing and freezing, and this created incredibly treacherous conditions in the ravine. When Street Outreach approached the tent, they came across Ashley, camped by herself. It had been more than a year since any Outreach worker had seen or spoken with her. They learned that Ashley had been living in Fort McMurray, where she had begun receiving AISH and had, after years outside, moved into an apartment. She had come to Edmonton again temporarily, intending to stay only for a day or two, but was left behind by her partner and later robbed of all belongings and identification.

Ashley was struggling greatly with the uncertainty of her situation, yet continuing, as she always had, to survive throughout it. She expressed that she wished to go back to Fort McMurray but did not know how to do so without any money or ID. She could only remember the first name of her AISH worker. Jane from Outreach was able to Google search the number to the Fort McMurray AISH office on her phone, which was instantly answered (rarely logistically possible in Edmonton) and the AISH worker’s full name and phone number provided. Joy, the AISH worker, also answered instantly, again a new and rare experience for Outreach! Joy spoke directly with Ashley, who, although emotional, explained her situation again. After speaking with Ashley, Joy told Jane that she would see what she could do and be back in touch shortly. In the meantime, Jane and Damien went to buy some breakfast for Ashley.

Barely fifteen minutes later, Joy called back to say that she had purchased a bus ticket back to Fort McMurray for Ashley for 1:30pm the same day. One of Ashley’s concerns had been being able to even board a bus without any form of ID – a barrier the general public so rarely has to think about. Joy provided a confirmation number and a “password” that Ashley could use to board the bus. Shocked at how quickly things had come together, Jane and Damien rushed back to Ashley. When she heard the news, she began packing her few belongings into bags. Having a few hours before the bus would leave, Jane and Damien helped Ashley take her bags of empty bottles to the depot so she would have some cash on hand, took her to the Mustard Seed Personal Assistance Centre for a change of clean clothes and hygiene items, and stopped to get her a bagged lunch to have on the long bus ride.

As the morning went on, Ashley began opening up more, laughing and telling stories. At one point she took out her keys and exclaimed with pride, “See? I do have my own place!” Eventually Jane and Damien brought Ashley to the bus depot. Once Ashley had her ticket in hand, she turned to the Outreach workers, looked both of them in the eye, shook their hands and thanked them before they left.

After such inconsistent contact previously, the joy and reward of being able to spend the full morning with Ashley was not lost on Jane and Damien. To be able to collaborate so efficiently with other professionals, and for Ashley, in such an uncertain and frightening situation, to put her trust in the workers to help her return home, was outreach and relationship at its finest.

Building A Life Worth Living

YCSP

Where do youth in Edmonton that face significant mental health concerns turn for support when acute health services can not provide a long-term resolution?  This is the question tackled by Alberta Health Services and Boyle Street Community Services three years ago, after a call-to-action from Alberta Families, to break the reliance on emergency services, and to address the lack of community safety nets available to youth struggling with mental health.

To address this, AHS partnered with Boyle Street Community Services, forming a team of health clinicians and community outreach workers, to develop a unique program now known as the Youth Community Support Program (YCSP).

 

The YCSP mission?

Provide an empowering, collaborative, and community-based program centred around youth and their families who have frequently accessed mental and physical health services without experiencing functional improvement.

 

Quite simply YCSP is a referral program that provides community-based services to the most medically vulnerable youth all of whom have engaged in self-harm repeatedly. Filling that void however, was no easy task. They were required to design a program unprecedented in Alberta.

 

“We were trying to come up with a model that had never been done before”

 said Rebecca Taylor, manager of YCSP’s outreach team, on the program’s development in early 2015.

 

Healthy and supportive relationships are essential for mental and physical wellness which is why encouraging and promoting relationships play a very important role at YCSP.  YCSP works not only with youth, but closely with their family members to establish and develop healthy relationships. These teams – referred to as Care Teams within YCSP – comprise of a family counsellor, occupational therapist, psychologist, and a psychiatrist provided by Alberta Health Services, and Boyle Street youth and family outreach workers. Youth and families identify and establish specific goals which are achieved with the help of their care team. Everyone involved is committed to realizing those unique goals.

Although every youth’s path to wellness is different, they all share a common goal at YCSP – to thrive in supportive communities. However, YCSP does not want to be their community, YCSP is there to provide the support and resources for youth to feel safe, included, empowered, and supported in their existing communities.

  • Positive identity development
  • goal setting
  • family counselling
  • youth outreach
  • psychosocial therapy
  • team building activities
  • relationship building
  • community inclusivity

are just a few of the resources provided to youth and families throughout the program.

Unlike some other programs, there is no time limit at YCSP. Participants receive ongoing care and support until they can safely and comfortably transition out of the program. When YCSP was originally developed, it was estimated a typical participant would need 3 to 9 months to graduate from the program however, the average time in a successful program is about 12 to 18 months.

Not only are they supporting youth, they are supporting everyone involved within the program. Parents, who are often under significant distress, are offered self-care wellness and parent peer support. Additionally, due to the traditionally high ‘burn-out’ rate of front-line staff in this field, YCSP staff encourage a strong focus on wellness in order to help cope with the highly emotional demands of their work. YCSP has encountered very little turnover since it’s inauguration.

“Everyone wants to be here” said Taylor,

“I can’t imagine any more rewarding work.”

 

Since it’s commencement in January of 2015, YCSP has been a success story.

Through support provided to youth, parents, and education providers, they have witnessed high school students struggling with mental health return to school safely, with their mental health needs addressed, and thrive in the classroom.

They have witnessed youth obtain jobs and live safely on their own, entirely independently.

Many participants are now active members of supportive communities and are working on healthy relationships with their family and peers.

 

YCSP is Provincial initiative with a sister site operating in Calgary with similar results.

 

If you are interested in learning more about YCSP and the positive impact that the program is having on their clients we invite you to our next Boyle Street Ambassador Impact Session on YCSP on June, 19th from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

Impact sessions give Edmontonians an opportunity to learn more about one of our programs by speaking directlty to those that deliver the service on a daily basis. For more information on YCSP please visit www.BoyleStreet.org/YCSP

Data Scarcity to Data Abundance

How we took a crucial inner-city programs from data scarcity to data abundance

Last year, funding for our Winter Emergency Response (WER) program was in jeopardy.

The program, which allows to keep our doors open and help Edmonton’s most marginalized fend off winter’s bite, had poor data. Though just as busy, we reported a 50% decrease in visits from the year before; in those visits we were missing 57% of the demographics necessary for reporting. We needed a change, fast.

In just a few months between funding cycles we completely turned our data around. With a new approach and technology, we more than doubled our reported visits while eliminating all 57% missing demographics. With our accurate data now available on demand, we developed a one-of-a-kind live data visualization advocacy project that has been covered in the Edmonton media. So how did we go from lagging to leading? Our change can best be described as an emphasis in what we like to call “data ergonomics.”

What is ergonomics and how does it apply to data?

Ergonomics is concerned with designing and arranging people and their tools to increase effectiveness and efficiency by improving the ways in which people interact with tools by minimizing technological, physical, or organizational pain points. In this case, we completely redesigned our data process: which data we collect, where we store it, and how we access it.

Staff are averse to bad ergonomics, not data

We see data as story-telling. An important assumption to data ergonomics is that staff have an intrinsic motivation to represent the important work they do. This motivation fails when a data-system…

1) is overly bothersome

2) feels meaningless because collected data is not used

By enhancing the ergonomics of data entry to address 1) and data visualization to address 2) we can generate staff buy-in naturally.

To help visualize how data ergonomics can be considered in our sector, lets divide the data process into 3 main elements:

 

Where collection is how data is collected and entered, architecture is process of storing the data, and visualization is how the data is seen.

Database administrators know the importance of designing database architecture, but often accept the “default” methods of data collection and visualization. When carefully integrated with people and environments, the design of collection and visualization can have profound impacts on program data.

Out with the old

Our previous data was managed by a ‘Web-based Case Management System’. Though it handled the architectural element of data well enough, customization for collection and visualization was limited.

In searching for software that would be able to fulfill our dreams of great data-ergonomics, we decided on a group of Microsoft products that are deeply customizable and communicate well with each other. Microsoft offers significant discounts for non-profits to use this technology (around 80%) which lets organizations like ours adapt the latest in business technology to our mission. Though monthly upkeep license costs are only $50/month, the system does need to be custom-built and consultants in this space can easily charge $125/hour. Over-the course of ~6 months, we had a tech-savy employee with a background in software and UX design develop our solution in-house, learning as they went.

We implemented the new technology into each element, as can be seen in the updated model below:

 

Architecture

Designing architecture requires a delicate balance between funder desires, organizational desires, and reality. In reviewing our practices, we found we were collecting information that wasn’t being asked for. We collected data that gave us a sense of unique visitors and demographics over months, while the funder was asking only for data tallied daily. In theory, our collection method should have covered both the funders needs and our curiosities, but in reality, it was a mess.

We began to streamline our practices. What resulted was a “daily visit” approach to our program’s data. With this approach, we entered demographics for each community member’s first visit and marked subsequent visits as “return visits” with no demographics. This completed all funding requirements and provides extra data about our building’s flow, something Boyle Street has been curious about for a while.

The web-based system’s architecture could be designed to fit this approach, but it couldn’t save data as fast as people were entering our building. Because of this, we moved to a system with better options for data entry: Dynamics 365.

Collection

One of the most immediate ways to improve ergonomics is to eliminate the redundant data-work created by a “paper-first, database later” approach. In combing data collection and data entry, we went from the data collection sheet below:

To the following PowerApp:


PowerApps, the underlying technology, is a fantastic way to quickly build custom data entry experiences. In the hands of a pro, a data collection app can be made in a couple of days. Apps are accessed via phone, tablet, or web browsers: perfect for non-profits with a rag-tag assembly of technology. PowerApps talks with our Dynamics architecture easily. The technology is very new (released October 2016) but we’re very excited to see where it progresses.

Visualization

Now that our data is entered directly into the database, it becomes much more accessible and powerful. Dynamics has built-in reporting capabilities, but PowerBI allows us to make interesting and interactive data visualizations fast. Our Drop-In Coordinator now completes the funder’s report in mi.

With renewed confidence in our data we now use it to advocate for our community. Using the live-visualization capabilities of PowerBI, we created boylestreet.org/data, a transparent look at poverty in Edmonton’s inner-city automatically updated every day. We believe this is an exciting new way for non-profits to engage with community and funders in the information-age.

 

The lead for this project is David Woodruff, originally the Data Coordinator at Boyle Street, David now develops custom data-systems in the non-profit space.

Find him at datapunks.ca

#TakeThePledge

We are asking individuals to donate just 10% of their holiday budget, volunteer for 10 hours over the winter and do one of our 10 Boyle Street Holiday Activities.

For just 10%, 10 Hours and 10 Activities your family can help create meaningful change in the lives of people living in poverty. #TakeThePledge and commit to supporting people in Edmonton experiencing homelessness.

Boyle Street Holiday Ambassador Activities:


For more information:

Brent Guidinger
587-335-7371
bguidinger@boylestreet.org