InformOntario 2015 Symposium "Healthy Information" was held this week in London hosted by the Healthline.ca Information Network - Wonderful opportunity for exchange with community information colleagues, health service providers, Community Care Access Centres, academics and Nora Young from the CBC. A message presented by our team was received clearly and with enthusiasm from our peers: "collaboration is central" to make sure services are equitable and accessible for everyone!
Investment in information and referral, information sharing and tracking of referrals within the health sector in Ontario is a significant factor in improvement of coordinated service delivery that is needed to deal with the needs in our communities today. Need for specialized directories and information resources (seniors, youth, LGBTQ) creates opportunities for closer collaboration between the local community information providers and health professionals.
It was confirmed many times that most people get information from their peers and turn to services only once there is an "emergency". Online information is not easy to access or understand. Positive and personal relationships with trusted service providers make all the difference in the world.
Large, funded regional and province-wide online information resources and call centres have the resources to market their services broadly and to increase access to an extent. However, in vulnerable neighbourhhoods, in rural communities, for those who are low income, are not digitally literate or, face significant challenges such as being non-English speaking newcomers, the power of information and referral provided locally by support people they can get to know is essential and irreplaceable. Relationships are crucial.
Our team made three presentations all which emphasized the need to provide information in flexible ways to meet the needs of those who use the information. Community information and community development go hand in hand and offer an important avenue for reaching out to meet people where they are at so they can be connected to the resources that are available. Instead of accounting only for individuals or caregivers who have the capacity to initiate a contact, our engagement strategies take place right in the places people live, and reaches those who still lack information, motivation or trust to seek help. High touch is needed now even more so than before to balance the challenges of increasing reliance on high tech information delivery which can be overwhelming to people.
A message presented by our team was received clearly and with enthusiasm from our peers: "collaboration is central" to make sure services are equitable and accessible for everyone!