Social Workers are dedicated health care professionals who contribute to the overall well-being of individuals, families, groups and communities in an effort to enhance social functioning.
Meet Jessica, a Social Worker at the North Vancouver Urgent & Primary Care Centre (UPCC). Opened last November, the UPCC serves two purposes: to provide care for people with non-life-threatening conditions who need to see a health-care provider within 12 to 24 hours but don't require an emergency department; and to help connect patients to a regular primary care provider. “I enjoy being able to provide immediate support to individuals or families and then to be able to follow up with them, if needed, at a later date. Being able to provide a broad spectrum of Social Work support, from crisis intervention to short term counselling, is very satisfying," she says. “By being available to patients at their point of medical care means that we can often provide psychosocial and practical support when it is most needed."
The opportunity to be part of a brand new program where Social Workers are part of a Primary Care Team excited Jessica. “I have always believed that Social Work support should be an integral part of primary medical care so that our understanding of the social determinants of health can be incorporated into providing meaningful curative and preventative health and social care. It has been wonderful to see the relief on a client's face and to hear how pleased they are to have been able to receive the support and advice that they need, when they need it – without having to wait weeks," she says. She finds great satisfaction in knowing that the UPCC is one of the few resources on the North Shore that is open on evenings and weekends, and the only centre to offer Harm Reduction supplies during these times. “Being part of the UPCC means we're able to provide a valuable range of services to the expanding North Shore population."
A supportive environment is important for everyone and Jessica feels the energy and enthusiasm from the new team – “we are all new together, learning together and trying to provide the best care, whilst ensuring that we are all having a good day at work! As a Social Worker I am frequently reminded how valuable collaborative work is. I remind myself that every situation is unique and a learning opportunity and try to take time to reflect on what works and what could be done differently next time."
Jessica emphasizes that a great part of working with the UPCC is that the team feels very much a part of the broader North Shore community of care. “We have made strong connections with the local VCH and non-VCH agencies and liaise together to ensure that we can provide comprehensive care to all ages and all needs. It is exciting to feel part of a much larger team with shared goals!". She recalls that prior to opening, the team had many discussions on how they can ensure the centre is accessible to everyone, not just geographically but also a welcoming site to everyone. “We have looked at our signage and decor, as well as our personal approaches to care, to ensure that we are an inclusive and low-barrier centre. We hope that everyone who walks into the UPCC feels safe, comfortable and welcome!"