Programming Connection

Harm Reduction Dispensing Units 

Ottawa Public Health


Lessons Learned

  • Training for program staff/peers on how to operate the HRDU is an essential part of the program. This includes training on how to operate and maintain the machines to ensure their continual function.
  • There are some inconsistencies in reporting due to varying numbers of supplies being offered through each of the HRDUs (e.g., different numbers of stems in each kit). Having a consistent “menu” of services is useful for reporting purposes; however, allowing organizations the flexibility to provide supplies that are specifically needed in the communities that they serve is also important. Clarity around reporting is an important issue to consider.
  • Refurbished machines are an option, although they sometimes need to be retrofitted, which can be an extra cost and take added time. If the funds are available, a new machine may be preferred. Units can range in cost from roughly $4,000 (refurbished) to $10,000 (new). 
  • Information on what is available in each of the fit-paks/kits, as well as places where service users can access additional harm reduction services, is currently located on the front of the HRDUs. Including information on where to seek services on a card inside of each package may also be beneficial to service users.