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Friday, December 14, 2012

We need a new standard of care

Kandice Léonard, Regional Director, Aboriginal Health Programs 

The health disparities of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples are well known nationally, with disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal patients in our health care systems. This is even more so in Winnipeg.

Through much discussion with stakeholders, Winnipeg Health Region has recognized the need to adapt to our patient population, instead of asking our patients to adapt to us.

With many patients making their way to Winnipeg from rural and remote communities, away from their support systems and the comforts of home, receiving care in Winnipeg can be an incredibly disruptive and stressful experience. In order to facilitate the most successful experience for our Aboriginal patients, we need to provide programming and care that is relevant to them. This means having services tailored to the patient’s needs and a culturally educated and representative workforce delivering those services and programs.

As recognition of the value of culturally competent health services has grown, Aboriginal Health Programs in the Winnipeg Health Region has had an opportunity to expand and better accommodate the needs of our Aboriginal patients and our staff.

We offer First Nations language interpretation, spiritual and cultural care, planning for appropriate and safe discharges, advocacy and holistic healing. Our program also works to achieve a representative and culturally competent workforce by promoting health care careers to Aboriginal youth and adults, supporting our existing Aboriginal staff, and providing cultural education to health professionals. A better experience and better chance for health and healing can result from culturally safe care and environments in our facilities.

As care givers and employers, we need to provide as many tools as possible for a positive outcome. As a health region, we need to provide our staff with knowledge and opportunity to develop those tools.

Our program had a key role in the development of the Winnipeg Health Region’s Cultural Proficiency & Diversity Framework for Action, and we look forward to being a part of its implementation in the years to come.

Moving forward, it’s our goal to see regional implementation of culturally safe practices and to create a new standard of care. We’ve been working to expand our role by integrating our program throughout the region in the development of programs, services and policies in all program areas, particularly those that see high percentages of Aboriginal patients. With an integrated approach, we can change the way we provide care.

Kandice Léonard (
Regional Director, Aboriginal Health Programs – Winnipeg 


Moving Forward Together Aboriginal Health Programs Strategy

Aboriginal Health Programs – Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

Framework for Action: Cultural Proficiency & Diversity – Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

Cultural Education for Health Care Providers

Sacred Traditional Medicines in the Winnipeg Health Region – Article & Video

Breaking Down the Language Barrier

Hope & Healing –Wave Magazine

Medical Careers Exploration Program for Aboriginal Youth

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