Wellness Wheel in partnerships for rural and Indigenous health
Wellness Wheel is a group of healthcare providers who work mostly on reserves in partnership and in collaboration with First Nations communities to deliver onsite clinic care that is in alignment with each communities’ health priorities and resources.
We spoke to Susanne, a Registered Nurse who frequently provides care and helps organize health services at Wellness Wheel. Suzanne explains that the group tries to do all this work with ‘minimal footprint’, meaning that they avoid putting additional work or stress on the local communities they partner with.
Since COVID-19, they have adapted to both public health recommendations and the emerging needs of each individual community. How has Wellness Wheel been impacted and adapted during COVID-19?
- In-person visits and care has been put on pause, as well as all research projects Wellness Wheel was collaborating on with individual groups.
- Wellness Wheel has started offering virtual clinics by phone or through video calls and are working to continue booking clinical days as usual. They are looking at providing some in person care for communities who are open and able to have them come.
- Wellness Wheel has been offering new COVID-19 supports, such as helping patients access the SHA access COVID-19 information and assisting with screening and testing.
In all of the disruption and instability created byCOVID-19, regular health concerns and need for chronic disease management doesn’t stop. A group of Wellness Wheel nurses have been continuing to offer support for chronic conditions, such as through helping older adults get prescriptions renewed and filled.
Nicolay, Clinic and Projects Coordinator at Wellness Wheel, explained that all of the supports are community dependent. These supports can look very different across groups, depending on what the individual community needs. “Whatever each community has reached out for is what we are trying to provide. So, it is really varied,” she said.
Wellness Wheel is doing a lot of work, but there are still gaps and places that need more attention, both for urban and rural patients.
“It’s really hard to stay connected with a variety of folks and not have them lost to care when you don’t have that regular scheduled visit in the community,” Nicolay said. She expressed the team’s eagerness to let communities know that they are still around for support and wish to get back to scheduling regular visits and building connectedness.