Janet Rosenfeld is a nurse practitioner based at the Salvation Army who works with citizens of Maple Ridge who experience homelessness and may be using substances to cope with their struggles.
This story is part of Fraser Health’s Compassion Matters campaign – a series of stories about compassion in the face of the overdose crisis, as told by some of those most impacted by the crisis. Read more of these stories.
As a health care provider, I approach the individuals I serve by working to understand who they are as a whole person, not just looking and seeing the addiction first. Fear and lack of trust of the people you look to for help can generate coping strategies that includes using substances. We may feel frustrated when we see such behaviour, and when that happens, individuals need to take a moment to understand that something has happened to this individual to cause it.
The relationship I build with clients is really a partnership. I’m not here to just tell them everything they have to do, and I’m not going to hold it against a client if they decline my health care suggestions. I just keep offering my help to them, and hopefully they will take it when they’re ready, and if not, I will support them where they’re at. . Building up a relationship of trust leads to people being more likely to seek health care services.
All it takes is one person to change the path of someone’s experience. If people come to me and are treated with dignity, respect, kindness and compassion, they start to trust that their next health care provider might treat them the same way. This encourages clients to seek further health services.
Role modelling for others what compassion, respect and kindness looks like is helpful towards combatting the stigma that prevents people from seeking support. I believe that if we can role model compassion and dignity in our services, then other people will come onboard. Sometimes, showing compassion may be all that’s required.