How to start a Community Health Centre in your community
AOHC can support your community in making the case to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, your Local Health Integration Network and the general public expanding access to Community Health Centre services for your community is a good idea.
Read on to find out what’s involved.
Why a Community Health Centre might be a solution for your community
There are a number of reasons why a Community health centre provides might make sense for your community.
- Community members might want to be more engaged in making decisions about local primary health care services and programs. Community Health Centre Boards of Directors and other volunteer opportunities provide an excellent way for community members to get involved.
- Your community not only needs increase access to medical care. You also need more programs and services designed to address social issues that are having a negative impact on health. Community Health Centres are the only Primary Health Care model in Ontario that addresses the social determinants of health – the wide variety of social economic, environmental and cultural factors that affect our well being.
- Your community includes many individuals who need services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate such as Francophones, Aboriginal Peoples and, racialized groups or newcomers to Canada. Community Health Centres deliver primary health care in culturally appropriate services the way that best meets the needs of their clients, including many services in languages other than English.
- There is little to no coordination of health and social services in your community. Community Health Centres are integrated and coordinate closely with other service providers and groups to give their clients access to the wide variety of services they may need.
- In your rural community you may have difficulty attracting nurse practitioners and family physicians because there are few other nearby health professionals and they are hesitant to work without this support. By bringing together interprofessional teams with many types of health providers all under one roof, family physicians and nurse practitioners feel supported in their practices.
Whatever the reason for your interest in a Community Health Centre, AOHC can provide you with support through all the different phases of developing a new centre.
How to get started creating a Community Health Centre
1. Mobilization of sponsoring or steering group
Emerging Community Health Centres develop in a way that involves community members as much as possible. A good process promotes individual and community health by encouraging people to identify their own needs, set priorities, plan for their future, and take responsibility for their own well-being.
Typically, a sponsoring organization or steering group of three to five people spearheads the early phases of development to assess the community’s needs and abilities, analyze the options for change and mobilize resources from inside and outside the community to get the new centre started. Steering groups are made up of interested community residents, local service providers and representatives of other community interest groups and organizations.
Once the steering group has formed it invites other community members to explore community health needs in the community and how a community health centre can contribute positively to the health of the community.
For more information on how to organize and mobilize the community, we recommend the resources Getting Started – Organizing the Community and From the Ground Up: An Organizing Handbook for Healthy Communities.
2. Identifying the need: Needs Assessment and formal proposal
Following the initial input from community members, a steering groups should document the stated needs in the community and how a Community Health Centre can help to meet those needs.
AOHC can work closely with steering groups to document the need and develop a proposal to the Local Health Integration Network and/or the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
For more information, we recommend the resource Needs Assessments and Proposals.
3. Follow-up meetings with decision makers
Since the last wave of expanded access to Community Health Centres was announced by the provincial government in 2004 and 2005, the process for deciding on whether a new community is funded to receive access to Community Health Centres has changed. Instead of the decision resting solely in the hands of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Local Health Integration Networks also play an important role.
AOHC can work closely with the community to facilitate meetings in this more complex decision-making environment. We can also provide support with any public and media relations efforts to get the message out about the importance of expanded access to Community Health Centres coming to your area.
Get in touch with AOHC if you would like more details on how we can provide you with support in bringing the values and benefits of a Community Health Centre to your community.