This story is about how quickly a difficult financial situation can begin to snowball out of control and directly impact the health and wellness of people in our communities. Shelly's story emphasizes how important it can be for healthcare providers to be aware of how financial strain can impact the care they provide to patients and their families.
As an AHS patient advisor, Shelly has four key points she would like to pass on to health care leaders and providers.
- End the stigma of poverty.
- ALL healthcare providers need to create safe space.
- Encourage collaboration between organizations.
- Actively promote organizations.
- End the stigma of poverty. Many populations at risk like seniors', LGBTQ+ community, people with mental health, cancer, substance dependency, immigration, differently abled, and BIPOC – Black, Indigenous, and people of color. How might we create a level field for everyone, inclusive and equitable. People are not always in control of circumstances, not always about choices that were or were not made. No one chooses to get Cancer, which could lead to job loss = poverty = burden on healthcare.
- ALL healthcare providers need to create safe space to have the difficult conversations regarding patients and family's current financial situation. Don't assume that I can afford the prescribing medication(s) treatment and other things my health dictates I need. (eg. Cardio rehab is only covered for 8 weeks. 8 weeks has passed, now what?) Set realistic expectations so the patient can complete treatment. Insurance might not cover, despite having coverage.
- Encourage collaboration between organizations. Shelly suggests groups like Wellspring, Skipping Stone, Kirby centre, the Alex, CUPS, 211, Calgary Legal Guidance etc. can help partner and aid necessary for patients and families. Allow people to remain in their homes for as long as they are able, as opposed to eviction, foreclosure, etc. Leads to homelessness, leads to crime = burden on healthcare.
- Actively promote organizations such as good neighbour, the Alex food bus, community food libraries, leftover pop ups etc. partner with restaurants to encourage their donations to the food bank and other lesser-known community food services. By encouraging ALL people to utilize these services it will ensure that they are sustainable and continue to provide services.