The health of our communities and the importance of social innovation research in the Kootenay region is a priority for Selkirk Innovates and the organizations and local governments we partner with.
Selkirk Innovates tackles various socio-economic issues including poverty reduction, street outreach, homelessness and COVID-19 and so much more. We aim to build capacity for our partners and social service organizations and provide data to help our partners with evidence-based decision making. Our nursing and health and social services faculty and students are key contributors to this research theme.
We respond to the needs of our communities. We support program evaluation for social service organizations and act as a bridge by linking various organizations within our region. For example, a local community organization applied for funding to create a project around group programs to support women who have experienced violence. In response, we can help them evaluate the interventions, and adapt their programming so it meets the needs of the women they’re serving.
With our homelessness and poverty programs, we help organizations evaluate the effectiveness of their programs so they can adapt to keep evolving and meeting the needs of their diverse clients.
There are many opportunities for work integrated learning and we work with the School of Health and Human Services to help students evolve their skills sets and use those skills to help local communities build their capacity. Our nursing students and faculty, in particular, are engaged in a considerable amount of scholarship of teaching and learning and research as part of their accreditation requirements.
Rural Homelessness and COVID-19
Selkirk Innovates, in collaboration with Selkirk College's Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, launched the Rural Homelessness and COVID-19 project in 2019/20 which aimed to improve the well-being of people experiencing homelessness in West Kootenay communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and delivered in partnership with social sector organizations operating in the region, including:
The intended purpose of this project is to improve the health and resilience of West Kootenay residents experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project had three main priorities:
1. Conduct research that allows partner organizations to make evidence-based decisions on how to prioritize and structure services, programs and policies designed to:
Help the target population meet its needs during the pandemic
Promote a culture of health and safety
2. Mobilize college resources to enhance the impact of regional COVID-19 response efforts targeting vulnerable populations
3. Promote collaboration between organizations and communities to transfer lessons, avoid duplication, and make best use of limited resources
This report presents results from the initial phase of research, which involved surveying service users to help identify the most important needs being faced by people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. The survey had the additional goal of assessing how beneficial services offered during the early stages of the pandemic were to the well-being of people experiencing homelessness. A person’s well-being includes their health, safety, and happiness.
Results from this phase of the research will inform future project activities, including Selkirk College’s efforts to work alongside community partners to develop and deliver services that respond to the evolving context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This project also involved street outreach services delivered through Bachelor of Science in Nursing practicum courses.
Read the outreach survey results.
New Denver Poverty Reduction
Poverty compromises the health and well-being of not only those experiencing it, but of everyone surrounding it. It is essential to plan for ways to support citizens experiencing poverty through policy changes, program implementation, and social services. Change and support are created first through understanding and discussing.
Poverty can affect the lives of residents in the Village of New Denver in numerous ways, creating barriers to them accessing their full potential and engaging socially in their home community.
Understanding the state of poverty in New Denver is an important first step in taking action to reduce poverty. This poverty reduction research project is the necessary first step to understand poverty on a local level and to discuss the topic of poverty with local leaders. The project provides New Denver with an optimal foundation of data for use in creating the best approach, most appropriate to poverty, unique to the community, and based on their needs, existing resources, partnerships, and priorities.
The Village of New Denver received this funding, and a research project was established in partnership with Selkirk Innovates. Additional funds through the MITACS Accelerate program were received to fund a student research intern to lead this research. As the Village of New Denver has limited capacity to implement poverty reduction actions due to its size, this plan does not recommend specific detailed initiatives. Rather it provides an overview of the state of poverty in New Denver, including highlighting assets available and service gaps, and provides some next steps in the form of decision-making tools and recommended actions for the full community, not just the local government.
This research focuses on indicators in the following areas:
Employment and income
Children and families
Education and training, and
Access to services.
The key decision-making tool to drive future poverty reduction in the community is an active and engaged Poverty Reduction Steering Committee. This project lays the foundation for further poverty reduction actions by preparing the community to take advantage of poverty reduction opportunities as they arise, building off existing community strengths and the priorities specific to local needs and concerns.
Read the report