Significant Barriers to Accessing Health Care Still Exist for Many Islanders - The Salt Spring Community Health Society has released the results of the Salt Spring Island Community Health Needs Assessment. The report is an analysis of data collected from the community using online and paper surveys, in-person interviews and focus groups. A significant portion of the report is dedicated to the Social Determinants of Health – housing, food, financial, social connections and self-determination. The other two sections of the report focus on access to health services and community health needs. Over 560 Islanders, aged 15 and over, responded to the survey.
The Salt Spring Community Health Society commissioned the needs assessment to help determine whether Salt Spring Island needs a community health centre and which programs and services the community needs most. As the survey shows, Salt Spring Islanders are well served by The Lady Minto Hospital, and with the arrival of three new doctors a year ago, Salt Spring Island is now one of the few communities in British Columbia deemed not to have a shortage of family physicians.
“Despite this”, says Community Health Society President Jennifer Williams, “the needs assessment shows many Islanders cannot get needed health services when they need them, and some people cannot find them at all.”
“The report tells us that we need to focus on helping to address the needs of people who experience significant barriers to accessing health care on Salt Spring,” says Martha Taylor, the Health Society’s community health needs assessment project lead. “And the area of greatest need, across all age groups, is mental health. This is the area we want to focus on first.”
The report also identifies the community’s desire for a community health centre that takes a team-based approach to primary care, offering improved access to specialists, diagnostic tests, monitoring and complementary services that also offers – or connects patients easily to – needed social services.
“A bricks-and-mortar health centre will be nice to have,” says Taylor. “But we can take action while it’s still in the planning stages by offering outreach services – going out into the community to help people get what they need.”
The full report, and a brief synopsis, are available online at saltspringcommunityhealth.ca, and in hard copy at the Salt Spring Island Public Library.