Evaluating COVID-19 mental health and child welfare supports at the under one sky friendship centre in New Brunswick, Canada
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Under One Sky Friendship Centre, Canada
University of New Brunswick, Canada
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1258
Background: In response to COVID-19, the Under One Sky Friendship Centre (UOS) rapidly launched two new initiatives aimed at mitigating the increasing social isolation and mental health decline evident among its clients. These initiatives provide professional counselling and nursing outreach informed by traditional knowledge and values to urban Indigenous families in New Brunswick Canada, and together form the Sakələməlsowakən (feeling strong within myself) Family Success Program. This presentation will highlight a systematic, community-driven evaluation of the Sakələməlsowakən program. Objectives 1) Co-develop community-academic research relationships between UOS and the University of New Brunswick 2) Identify program outcomes informed by the perspectives of community members who access or will potentially access this program 3) Evaluate the program with an aim to provide data for iterative improvements and to advocate for ongoing funding Methods: A community-based participatory action research methodology was used to prioritize community input and involvement in all aspects of the project. Evaluation outcomes and indicators were identified through a series of team meetings that included practitioners, organizational leaders, and academic researchers. Data were collected through individual interviews and an electronic survey that was developed for this project. Results: Findings indicate that the program promotes a successful life trajectory, rather than just dealing with crises; transformed participants' needs with culturally grounded and safe service; enabled adherence to services; created a positive impact on participants' wellbeing; provided flexible, reliable and culturally-safe care; and addressed systemic and cultural barriers effectively. However, low participation rates in data collection activities indicate a need to improve our approach and continue collecting and analyzing evaluation data. Conclusions: The Sakələməlsowakən Family Success Program met client needs and had a dramatic impact on family wellbeing in several cases. However, further research is needed to improve confidence in validity of findings and to better understand medium to long term impacts.