Waterloo Wellington LHIN increases funding for Indigenous-specific health and wellness

The Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network is allocating more of its budget for Indigenous health because there is a need for more and better services.

'Uniquely and specifically designed' services needed to support community's needs

The Waterloo-Wellington Local Health Integration Network allocating more of its budget to better serve Indigenous patients in the area. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

The Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network is tripling its budget to help bring culturally appropriate health services to Indigenous patients in the area.

The LHIN is allocating an additional $200,000, for a total of $300,000. Part of the funding will be used to create two positions – one in Kitchener and one in Guelph – to communicate with the Indigenous community "to identify the key actions needed locally," the LHIN's chief strategy officer Toni Lemon said.

That could include connecting residents with culturally specific services, such as bringing in traditional healers, as well as enhancing Indigenous cultural awareness among health service providers through training.

About a year ago, the LHIN brought in a traditional healer and Lemon said they had a very positive response.

"Over 200 people actually responded and came in to be a part of that event," she said. "The demand and the need locally is quite significant and we really think it's important to be able to deliver that type of care close to home."

Services that respect culture

The LHIN wants to provide excellent culturally appropriate services, but also to do more to teach staff at local hospitals, mental health care workers and long-term care facilities how to best help this "unique" segment of the population.

"Our Indigenous community tells us it's really important to have services that are uniquely and specifically designed to support their unique needs," Lemon said. "What they're looking for are services that really respect and accommodate their unique cultural perspective, their needs, their background."