Programming Connection

Hepatitis C Ethnocultural Education, Outreach and Social Marketing Program: Building partnership with communities 

CATIE
Ontario
2015

Early in the development of the Hepatitis C Ethnocultural Education, Outreach and Social Marketing Program (see case study for full description of the program), CATIE recognized that partnerships with immigrant-serving and settlement organizations working with the priority communities (Chinese, Filipino and South Asian) were going to be key to the program’s success.

By networking through a variety of avenues including conferences (such as the North American Refugee Health Conference and Metropolis), community organizations (such as AIDS service organizations) and networks (such as the Ontario Settlement Network and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants), CATIE identified and contacted key partners during the first year of the program.

In addition, CATIE sought buy-in and support from community leaders. This opened up opportunities for CATIE to work with clients and staff of immigrant-serving and settlement organizations across each community. These community leaders were found through conferences, cold calls and networking across organizations.

Community readiness

Each of the communities CATIE works with is supported by different community organizations, networks and infrastructure. There are well-established health networks and health organizations in the Chinese and South Asian communities, but there are no networks or health-focused organizations in the Filipino community. Each community was at a different stage for community development in health at the beginning of the program, and CATIE had to connect and coordinate with different resources to achieve the program’s goals.

Differences in programs and infrastructure in each community affected how CATIE has worked with the various immigrant groups. Although CATIE has had many opportunities to participate in larger networks and established community organizations focusing on health in the Chinese and South Asian communities, the opportunities have been more limited in terms of networks and health programming in the Filipino community. CATIE works more directly with various community groups in the Filipino community to overcome this barrier.

The role of community partners

Community partners played a key role on the community advisory councils that helped guide the project in the first few years. Members of the advisory councils had specialized roles, focusing on the development of the project’s initial translations, curriculum, resources or media campaign. Participation on the community advisory councils provided representatives from different groups in a community with opportunities for leadership, advocacy and connection. Sometimes the council meetings were the first time that these groups discussed health issues in their community.

Community partners also helped the program recruit facilitators and workshop participants, consulted on culturally appropriate health curriculum for an important issue and networked within their own communities. Community partners were compensated for the time their staff spent with the community advisory councils and for any facilitation or related project work.

Structure of community advisory councils

A separate community advisory council was set up for each of the four priority communities. The community advisory councils were structured to ensure adequate representation from the community in question. The roles on each council were aligned with the project’s work plan, with key council members assisting in the development of health information resources, workshop curriculum and the messaging for a media campaign. Each community advisory council included:

  • One community/key opinion leader. These individuals were often an executive director or leader of an organization supporting people within the community. They were also available for media interviews or to comment on the issue of hepatitis C.
  • One bilingual community facilitator. Skilled health facilitators were recruited through community partners, leadership programs and professional organizations.
  • One media specialist. These individuals researched content for use in our media literacy workshop and provided feedback on our media campaign.
  • Two workshop and resource reviewers. Each council had at least one medical and one community reviewer for translated materials and workshop content.
  • Representatives from one to three community partners. These individuals represented the community organizations where CATIE held its initial workshops: Media Literacy and Health Literacy and Immigrant Health and Hepatitis C.

In the initial years of the program, the program coordinators pursued partnership opportunities as they arose. Going forward, CATIE will write population-specific strategies annually that outline focused partnership work with community organizations and participation in networks as a way to reach specific groups and create links to community health. This kind of focused and tailored approach could be developed and implemented for different groups and settings.