Flying the rainbow flag

Community health centres becoming inclusive

Rainbow flags could soon be flying over community health and resource centres across the city.

Ottawa’s centres are seeking to ensure that they’re “culturally competent” to deal with the needs of the city’s GLBT population.

“Cultural competence,” explains Ernie Gibbs, a youth counsellor with the Centretown Community Health Centre, “is a term that’s being used to mean accessible, friendly, that the staff have the knowledge to work with the GLBT population, that they don’t make assumptions.

“It also means that the organization has made changes so that policies are more accepting and inclusive, so that the way thatthe organization works is more inclusive.”

Under the GLBT Cultural Competence Project launched in October by the Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres, 14 Ottawa centres will undertake a comprehensive self-assessment which looks at everything from hiring to community relations. The idea is to cultivate a sense of what the centres are and aren’t doing. The information will be used to formulate an action plan on “GLBT cultural competence” for each centre.

Gibbs describes the self-assessment as the “main thrust” of the first part and points out that each of the centres is at a different place in terms of being familiar with this issue.

“It’s kind of like 14 mini projects,” he says.

The second part of the project will focus on training. The health centres will have a day-long training session for physicians, looking at the health needs of the GLBT community. The resource centres will all have access to basic training related to GLBT awareness. Five more in-depth half-day training sessions will also be offered. These will look at specific populations including youth, families, seniors and transgendered, and working with multicultural issues.

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Health, Ottawa

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