By Alex Cooper for revelstokelife.ca
When Stacie Byrne started working at WorkBC several years ago, she struggled to help her clients navigate employment services and other supports available in Revelstoke. Many clients required help in areas beyond just finding a job, but knowing where and how to access those services was very challenging.
“Those who lived here seemed to know – through years of experience – what was available, and could help me along the way one piece at a time. But I wanted to find information on those services quickly, while in an appointment with a client, with the touch of a button. We needed to be able to see the bigger picture,” she related. “RevelstokeLife.ca can now help me to see the bigger picture for myself, find information quickly, and share it with others.”
RevelstokeLife.ca is a new resource for residents – a one-stop-shop for all health and social services available in the community. The site was developed through collaboration between the Revelstoke Chapter of the Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice and the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use (CYMHSU) Local Action Team (both of which are funded through partnership between Doctors of BC and the Ministry of Health), as well as the City of Revelstoke Social Development, and the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter Society.
The idea of a website came about organically as the partners worked together and began discussing how to enhance access to local health and social services. The partners agreed that it was critically important to remove the barrier of “not knowing where to turn.”
“Typically, it’s been difficult for community members to know what services are provided locally in Revelstoke and what services they have to travel out of town for, particularly for those who may be new to town,” explained Katherine Brown, Divisions of Family Practice chapter coordinator. “Our intention with RevelstokeLife.ca is to develop a site that gives residents very specific information on locally accessible health care services and social supports. Giving practitioners and other health care providers access to the same information makes referrals to other services across the community easier.”
Revelstoke currently has several directories that were previously only available in hard copy or as a PDF document online, including the Newcomers Guide, the Seniors’ Resource Guide, and the Directory of Social Services. RevelstokeLife.ca is a living platform that enables residents to access resources and support with just a few simple clicks, instead of needing to browse page-by-page. Some of the old guides will be linked to the site, and others replaced by this new website completely.
“We know that pretty much everyone is looking for things online, and when they look online, they don’t want static documents. They want it to be interactive so they can peruse through and get a quick response,” explained Jill Zacharias, the City of Revelstoke’s Social Development Coordinator. “You have three seconds before you lose people. It’s that fast.”
How does the site work? The home page features a simple message, “Your Health. Your Community,” bolded on a beautiful fall photo of Revelstoke. At the top of the page, there are six drop-down menus which are set up to quickly lead people to the service they want to access.
“Community Services” provides a list of 23 subjects, including arts and culture, employment, seniors, and transportation. As an example, clicking on “Legal Services” brings up a list of local lawyers and notaries. The “Employment Services” page provides information on the Basin Business Advisors program, Community Futures, and WorkBC.
“Health Care Providers” includes a wide array of health services from acupuncture to family doctors (and everything in between).
“Hospital and Outreach Services” provides in-depth information about the services provided at Queen Victoria Hospital, as well as outreach services available in the community.
Under “Mental Health Supports,” mental health services are categorized under children, youth, adults, seniors, couples, and families, making it easier for the community to find services tailored to their needs. Addiction and substance use counsellors and supports can also be found here.
“I Need Help With…” provides a list of topics or conditions one might struggle with, such as autism supports, substance use, sexual assault, elder abuse, and domestic violence.
“Safety & Emergency” provides information about a number of services such as the RCMP, Search & Rescue, and the Community Connections Food Bank, and includes a list of phone numbers residents can call if they need help.
Each service provider’s page contains a brief description, phone number, email address, street address, website, social media links, and any other available information. Listings are free of charge. Health providers are required to be a licensed and registered practitioner in their field.
“The important part of the website is that it leads you to a human in the end,” noted Stacie Byrne, who is the Project Lead for CYHMSU. “People often feel alone because they don’t know what’s out there for them. Hopefully this leads to more people reaching out when they’re in need and a community answering that call for help.”
In addition to being an excellent portal for people needing help, RevelstokeLife.ca is also being used by practitioners and social service providers to connect with each other. With the increasing recognition that health is impacted by social factors, doctors can use the site to quickly provide information to patients regarding other services such as counsellors, the food bank, youth programs, or seniors’ services.
“We’re hoping to increase the connectivity between practitioners in town to better service our patients,” explained Dr. Kate McCarroll. “It’s also a way for patients themselves to access the services they need, when they need them.
“We know that patients really need a team to help them stay as healthy as possible,” she continued. “When we work in silos, it’s not always in the patient’s best interest.”
While the site went live over the holidays, the partners say it is still a work in progress. Additional steps will include ensuring the site is easy to find and navigate, and using the results of a pop-up user feedback survey to inform how the site grows and evolves.
“We want to be sure we are incorporating important feedback from both the community at large as well as practitioners,” says Brown. “we have received an incredible response to the development of this site and service providers have been very helpful in providing their information. It’s clear that the community sees value in a tool like this and has really stepped up to help us launch it.”
Service providers are encouraged to complete the ‘Contact’ form on the site if they would like to be listed on RevelstokeLife.ca, or if their information changes.