Description of Program
What is the intervention/program/project?
The program operates out of a drop-in centre in Saskatoon and three satellite rural locations. The program consists of integrated components: individual supports, prevention education and drop-in services.
The basic premise is that instead of going into the community with an agenda to communicate information about HIV transmission, the organization listens to where people ‘are at’ and seeks to meet them there. In order to engage people in HIV prevention, the organization has learned to engage them first in their housing, food security, basic needs and immediate urgencies. Once these needs are met, people stay in the program and are receptive to HIV prevention information.
What is the goal/objective of the intervention/program/project?
The goal of the program is to get factual, straightforward information about HIV to individuals who access the program because they are either at risk or HIV positive. The program recognizes that people need information and resources to protect themselves. People who are not currently positive and might be at risk are more likely to get tested, speak openly, and experience less despair if they have accurate information. The reduction of stigma is an additional program goal.
Ultimately, the program staff would like to see people living with HIV enjoying the most supportive, healthy lives as possible, and people who do not have HIV given the information and tools to remain that way.
Why was the intervention/program/project originally developed?
The program began with a drop-in centre in Saskatoon, which was named after the street address because people accessing the program did not want to be ‘outed’ as living with HIV.
The centre was opened in 2001 by mothers of gay men. Now, the majority of people contracting HIV are street-involved, use illicit drugs, are not eating well and do not have homes. Many are Aboriginal Peoples. The program is reflective of HIV in Saskatchewan and has been structured to adapt to changing needs. The program now offers prevention programming and supports, such as a laundry service, resource centre, meals and a needle exchange.
The 601 concept and model has been successful in connecting with a population that is difficult to reach. After many years in Saskatoon, the organization was solicited to open satellite centers in rural areas, beginning in 2010.
How was the intervention/program/project developed?
The organization draws its direction from how people define their needs in rural areas. It has developed organically based on feedback from people who participate and are at risk in the community. The key concept in rural satellites is to meet community where its need is. The organization goes to communities to identify needs around prevention education as a first step in program development.
- Harm reduction
- Harm reduction
- Indigenous peoples
- People living with HIV/AIDS
- People who use drugs
- Service providers
Yorkton (Eastern Saskatchewan), Prince Albert, La Ronge (Northern Saskatchewan) and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Resources for Program
- HIV prevention resources from CATIE.
- Finances to support free provision of services (coffee, sugar, whitener, nutrition, laundry, internet (to break isolation), and any other necessities are required).
- Transportation to take people to and from appointments.
- Social workers.
- Individuals for person-to-person support.
Audience/client feedback and satisfaction
- The organization evaluates programs through people who participate. A satisfaction survey is administered every year to ensure that messages are communicated well and peoples’ needs are met.
- Number of clients served.
- Number of clients enrolled.
- Participants in workshops and panels geared at service providers and health care professionals evaluate whether methods are effective, what has been learned. A yearly external evaluation of the drop-in centre is conducted.
Evaluation TermsAudience/client feedback and satisfaction, Outcome evaluation, Output tracking, Process monitoring or evaluation
- When people are cared for and not seen as a number or statistic, the level of engagement is much more meaningful and, in turn, impactful. People who are cared for as individuals listen and learn more intently.
- HIV prevention programs must be strong proponents in harm reduction, and operate based on the idea of meeting peoples’ support needs.
- New drug use equipment to prevent sharing must be provided through the needle exchange.
- Programming must be driven by the priorities in peoples’ lives: they are the experts in their own lives and we are there to give as much information as we can.
- Many people are systemized and used to operating within bureaucracies of social services. This program must begin from peoples’ needs, not the organization’s agenda, and establish a level of trust and respect.
- Finances and trying to secure funding is a major challenge. Funding is only guaranteed year to year, which presents difficulties in proposing and building on activities. Staff retention is difficult because the organization is unable to offer job security in a context of year to year funding. When trust and relationship building is a key component, the staff retention issue is one of biggest challenges.
- There is little public, open support for individuals actively using drugs. There is community push-back and people who believe that drug use is an individual’s “fault” and an indicator of a refusal to accept help. At times, the push-back comes from service agencies who lack understanding and training with regards to people who use illicit drugs and are at risk of HIV. Regressive government policies surrounding harm reduction contribute to push-back.