To help area communities face health challenges, the Strathcona Community Health Network (SCHN) has released a series of data profiles.
The information focuses on the so-called social determinants of health – in other words, those socio-economic factors that influence people’s health and well-being. These include living conditions, working conditions and learning conditions. This information then helps these communities and organizations when it comes to planning and communication strategies. For example, the province is undergoing a redesign of the primary health care network, so the profiles will help provide a picture of priorities at the local level to inform this redesign process.
“Things like the cost of food, the distance to school or work and available transportation all have an impact on how healthy communities are,” Christine Colbert, co-chair of the Health Network, said in news release. “The profiles are easy to read and paint a clear picture of the factors that could contribute to a community’s health.”
The community health profiles summarize current data for regional communities in categories such as housing, education, food, health care, and child care, all of which have an impact on health and well-being. SCHN has put together profiles for: Campbell River; Cortes Island; Gold River and Tsa’Xana; Quadra Island; Sayward, the Sayward Valley and Kelsey Bay; Tahsis; and Zeballos, Ehatis, Ocluje and Kyuquot.
“This is the first time that these particular data profiles have been created,” Colbert said.
SCHN hired a consultant to work with the communities to put together the profiles over a period of a little more than two years. The reports were composed with different exiting information from groups like the United Way and local health authority data, documents such as the Vital Signs reports, as well as through processes such as focus groups of major service providers. This led to the identification of some key themes such as transportation and housing.
“It really ignited other conversations and gave people the opportunity to come together and say what are our options,” she said.
For the rural and remote areas of the region, these profiles can help the communities by providing them with accessible information that can be used in situations such as grant applications as a means to show funders and government some of the issues that small communities face.
“Having a better understanding of a community helps decision-makers consider the implications of policies and funding at a local level,” Colbert said.
There were no major surprises that came out of the process, but Colbert said the real value results from the fact that someone took the initiative to gather this information to validate challenges that individual citizens in the communities know first-hand.
“This provides that platform and, hopefully, tool that they can use,” she said.
Some profile data
Campbell River’s vacancy rate, as of November 2018, was 0.5 per cent.
Between 2011 and 2016, a total of 125 people moved to Sayward from around B.C., mostly because of affordability.
Kyuquot faces a challenge of geography because there is no way to enter or exit the community without a boat or float plane.
On Quadra, 36.6 of employed residents commute off-island for work.
Gold River has the second highest median income in the Strathcona Regional District at $65,344.
With about 1,000 residents, Cortes hosts about 3,000 people per day in the summer.
Zeballos has no grocery stores, though two general stores sell limited quantities of frozen meat, some fruits and vegetables, cooking staples and snacks.