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Poster Abstracts

Community Wellness Bus Developmental Evaluation

Author:

Jeff Dorans

Algoma Ontario Health Team, Canada, CA
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Abstract

Introduction: Launched in April of 2021, the Community Wellness Bus (CWB) is an evidence-based mobile outreach model that serves clients in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. The program was designed to address inequities in resourcing for health services by supporting underserved community members in their continuum of care. An integrated care initiative between seven health and social service organizations, the CWB delivers on-site medical assessments, harm reduction supplies, peer support, basic necessities, and support for appropriate health and social service referrals.

A developmental evaluation was initiated six months after launch to support rapid learning and improvement by providing real-time data and feedback to inform the expansion of services.

Objectives/Methods

  • The overarching objectives of the CWB program are to:
  • Provide outreach services to meet community members where they are;
  • Deliver culturally sensitive care and be a pathway for individuals to access health and social services;
  • Improve community safety with an added presence and community engagement; and
  • Rebuild trust with the community and enhance well-being.

The evaluation relied on in-depth document review, online surveys, and in-person client interviews to assess whether the program has met short and medium term intended outcomes. The evaluation was also used to identify persisting local unmet service needs in the mental health and addictions space that are not addressed by the CWB program.

Key Findings: The CWB saw remarkable success through its first several months of operation. Since initial launch, the CWB has:

  • Recorded over 3,500 client visits;
  • Effectively engaged with and built rapport with community members; and
  • Successfully developed a number of partnerships with community health and social service organizations. 

Despite a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic posing numerous challenges, the evaluation emphasized that the CWB was launched as planned and was well-received by clients, partners and the local community. The findings of the evaluation were used to formulate recommendations which will guide decision-making to allow for expansion of services. Recommendations included:

  • Increasing staffing and training opportunities
  • Improving communication and supporting collaborative partnerships
  • Re-centering the referral process around clients
  • Amplifying the client voice
  • Partnering with Indigenous organizations
  • Adding a primary care component

Conclusions: The CWB is an important part of the continuum of community-based services for mental health and addictions care that has fostered alignment between partners to provide services in a resource constrained setting. Gaps in services point to a need for continued partner collaboration to address homelessness, socioeconomic challenges, and mental health and addictions issues by integrating care across health and social systems.

Applicability/Transferability: Results from the evaluation have validated that the CWB is an effective approach to providing care to individuals who are underhoused and living with mental health and addictions issues. The mobile outreach model offers an opportunity for individuals to re-engage with the local health system through an alternative route, rather than traditional healthcare institutions. While the mobile outreach model has been proven successful in larger urban centers, the success of the CWB demonstrates that this model can be successful in smaller communities. 

 

How to Cite: Dorans J. Community Wellness Bus Developmental Evaluation. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2022;22(S3):178. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/ijic.ICIC22321
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Published on 04 Nov 2022.

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