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Client Reflection: Supporting the Development of the Chatham-Kent Community Drug Strategy through Mutual Trust, Compassion, Flexibility and Expertise

This blog was written by Emily Guerin (Public Health Educator) and Jordynne Lindsay (Public Health Nurse) from Chatham-Kent Public Health

From November 2022 to March 2023, Collective Results supported the Municipality of Chatham-Kent (CK) with the development of the Chatham-Kent Community Drug Strategy (CKCDS). The CKCDS is an evidence-based, comprehensive drug strategy, with prioritized areas for collaborative action and key performance indicators that are tailored to CK based on a four-pillar (i.e., prevention, treatment and recovery, harm reduction, and community inclusion and safety) approach. 

To inform and develop the CKCDS, Collective Results supported and worked with us (CK Public Health), as well as a project Steering Committee, community partners, and community members. The work involved community consultations, drug strategy development, key performance indicator selection, and recommendations for strategy structure and implementation.

Developing a community drug strategy is no small task and didn’t come without its challenges. As with any large project, CK Public Health encountered a number of delays along the way, including organizational changes, role transitions, and approval processes. Collective Results supported us every step of the way with a flexible approach to problem solving. Their foresight, planning, and organization allowed the team to identify potential barriers early on, pivot, and adapt with openness and ease. A challenge CK Public Health has experienced in previous projects working with external consultants is a lack of understanding of a public health approach. However, Collective Results brings significant public health knowledge and experience to their work with several staff having worked in the public health sector for many years. This expertise fostered mutual trust, compassion, and support between our teams, allowing us to tackle challenges together more proactively and efficiently. Looking back, issues that could have turned into major barriers for our project were handled with such diligence that they were only minor bumps in the road.

Collective Results demonstrated many strengths that contributed to the positive and successful experience. These key attributes aligned with CK Public Health’s organizational values and the overall goals of the community. Importantly, Collective Results emphasized the need to meaningfully include People With Lived/Living Expertise (PWLE) of substance use throughout the process. This involved having PWLE participate in leadership roles on the project Steering Committee to advise planning and decision-making. PWLE were also involved as interviewers during data collection with people who use substances, leading to 59 individuals being interviewed and having their voices included in the strategy. Additionally, PWLE co-led presentations with Collective Results to share the findings of community consultations with the project Steering Committee. With support from Collective Results, CK Public Health was able to meaningfully compensate PWLE for their time and knowledge, following harm reduction best practice recommendations. In addition to collaboration and inclusion, Collective Results fostered learning and capacity building among the CK Public Health team and the project Steering Committee. They provided education, resources, tools, and connections that will benefit our community as we move into drug strategy implementation. In other words, Collective Results took the time to teach us how to design and conduct project activities rather than simply doing the work themselves. The impacts of this capacity building approach will prove invaluable for years to come.  

“As a member of the Steering Committee, working with Collective Results to create the Community Drug Strategy was a positive and enlightening experience.  They were direct, professional, and showed care and concern about all our voices surrounding the increasing need for a more robust and strategic community wide response to the ever-growing concerns around substance use and the opioid crisis.  We are grateful for them!”

- Renee Geniole, Project Steering Committee Member

Our community now has an evidence-based, comprehensive drug strategy, and Collective Results also provided us with several implementation tools and resources to best position us to move forward with implementation in our community. We would highly recommend working with Collective Results.

From Collective Results: Thank you Emily, Jordynne and the CKCDS Steering Committee! It was our pleasure to work with the Chatham-Kent community and learn about all of the great work being done across CK. We look forward to seeing the CKCDS in action and to watch those actions foster and advance a safe, inclusive, and caring community in CK.

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