The FLA OHT is working together with Indigenous People to build a system that recognizes and offers Indigenous health practices. We are committed to engaging with Indigenous People and community members and using Indigenous teachings and tools in our work, to incorporating the community’s suggestions and building stronger partnerships.

The Indigenous Interprofessional Primary Care Team (IIPCT) is an example of a Health Home that we are continually working with and learning from. We asked Sarah King, IIPCT Community Development Worker, about their work, services and vision for vibrant communities where all Indigenous People receive friendly, warm care where they are. Here are her responses:

What is the mandate of the IIPCT?
The IIPCT offers care that combines both traditional and Westernized modalities to increase and balance the overall wellness of Indigenous People within our catchment area. The IIPCT is a result of one of the many action items from the Truth and Reconciliation Act to provide non-stigmatizing and culturally safe care to Indigenous People.

We are a status-blind organization that allows increased access for Indigenous People that may not have a traditional status card. This opens services up to all Indigenous People to access care that will add value to their lives and incorporates holistic wellness.

What considerations are put into the types of services the IIPCT offers?

IIPCT staff consider the Indigenous Person’s journey, and where they are within that journey. People have control of their care decisions based on what fits best for their life. Our staff provide culturally safe care that is directed by each person and respects where the person is on their journey. Our team understands that care can be complex.

With our staff’s expertise within both a medical and community service setting , people have access to resources, programming and referrals to ensure their continuum of care is culturally safe, directed by each person and that it encompasses a circle of care that supports all four areas of their wellness: physical, cultural, emotional and mental.

Intergenerational trauma, residential schools and childhood upbringing can all have an impact on a person’s journey. Our team uses a holistic framework to guide us when working with Indigenous People. Our team understands that the Social Determinants of Health can greatly impact a person’s wellness, and we work together to ensure all four areas are being supported to balance their wheel amongst other programming. People who seek services through the IIPCT have better and more timely access as our appointment times are stretched longer than other organizations of a similar nature. Offering holistic care within our organization is important to ensure we are supporting Indigenous People in all areas, and we are working together to increase their overall wellness.  

The IIPCT engages with Indigenous communities across a vast region, how do you shape care and services based on needs determined by the people in the areas you serve?

Through programming, we can have a greater reach to Indigenous People residing within our catchment area from Bancroft, Belleville, Prince Edward County, Tyendinaga, Napanee, Kingston, Sharbot Lake and Brockville. As we continue to expand our services and reach, we anticipate a larger following for our programs and services.

Some of the Indigenous individuals that seek our services need assistance completing, submitting, and getting access to forms. Others need help with housing, transportation, food security, finances, referrals to organizations, and service coordination. We support people navigating the health-care system and being connected to culturally safe navigators.

We have people that are looking for a cultural connection to their ancestry and are looking for knowledge, cultural teachings, and culturally safe programming to be re-introduced to their culture and feel more connected. Other people are looking for social connections after the pandemic.

We have patients that are struggling to determine the first steps in reaching their goals,  and who are looking for support along the way. Each community that we enter is different, therefore the programs that run in each area will be different. We develop our programs and tailor our services based on the communities' needs and the Indigenous people that reside there.

Can you share a story about someone who has benefitted from the IIPCT services?

We received an internal referral for an Indigenous person that needed support for their non-Indigenous spouse.  The couple had been managing their health issues for a long time. the patient was receiving cancer treatments, while their spouse was slowly deteriorating from Alzheimer’s. The stress and strain from both the Alzheimer’s diagnosis and the cancer treatments caused the patient great distress.

In an example like this, the IIPCT works with not only the patient but their household members as well, as a person’s overall wellness can include the wellness of their loved ones too. The spouse required increased care from both respite and a personal support worker. Due to a shortage in those areas, the care being received was not enough to cover the entire need in and of itself. Through the internal referral, this patient was connected to mental health services, community development services and cultural coordination services. Externally, this patient was connected to various in-home supports for their spouse, food security programs, nutrition specialists (due to cancer treatments), Indigenous Navigators (within hospital settings) and long-term care home providers and specialty organizations (to assist and support the continued deterioration from the Alzheimer’s diagnosis).

The patient’s day-to-day life was changing as their cancer treatments progressed and they needed additional support. IIPCT coordinated a circle of care between all providers to whom this household was connected. This included doctors, specialists, community organizations, dietitians, Indigenous Navigators and three members of the IIPCT team. The  patient was successful in transferring their spouse to a long-term care centre successfully completing their cancer treatments and reducing their stress from the constant scheduling of appointments. Our team was able to streamline the to provide the best care possible with the least amount of stress caused to the patient. Our team worked collaboratively with internal and external providers to determine a plan of action that would make the patient comfortable. Options were provided and all decisions were guided by the patient who maintained control of their own care, as well as their spouse's.

The IIPCT just opened a new clinic in Kingston, can you share some information about the new clinic?

Our new clinic is located at 730 Front Road in Kingston. We are excited to expand our services to be able to offer culturally safe care to Indigenous People without a current provider. We have a Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nurse, Registered Practical Nurse, Office Administration and Reception on staff within that location.

All services being offered within our Tyendinaga location will slowly be added to the Kingston office. This includes appointments for mental health, cultural coordination and community development. People accessing the Kingston clinic should receive the same culturally safe care that is offered at the Tyendinaga location.

Visit the IIPCT website for more information.