Programming Connection

Remote Outreach Project 

Blood Ties Four Directions Centre
Yukon
2010

Evaluation

Blood Ties evaluated the Remote Outreach Project twice with the support of external community evaluators in March 2008 and March 2009. They were interested in learning: (1) if the Canadian guidelines combined with culturally appropriate workshop presentations met northern Aboriginal needs; (2) if CHRs increased their ability to respond to HIV and hepatitis C issues, and (3) if community members increased their understanding of the spectrum of risk, harm reduction practices, and where to access support and advocacy services.

The evaluators answered these questions through a review of reports submitted by the Project Coordinator after each community visit and through structured interviews with the CHRs, the Blood Ties staff and remote community members who attended the workshops as well as those who chose not to.

Key recommendations from the first evaluation were implemented:

  • Visit each community for shorter periods of time but more frequently. This will allow for time to perform duties and will help to build an ongoing presence.  
  • Make clearer distinctions for participants between high- and low-risk behaviour as they apply to remote rural communities (e.g., clearly explain how sharing a bottle of beer has no risk of HIV transmission).
  • Build alliances with the Yukon First Nations community beyond health and social departments to expand community participation; include Elders, Council Members, Chiefs and youth group workers.

The most significant recommendation was somewhat contrary to common community development practices: Service delivery agencies and funders need to understand, accept and support the reality that some rural health professionals and community members prefer to access HIV and hepatitis C education and support services from a visiting health agency with expertise in that area. Staff capacity, staff transition and confidentiality issues underlie this preference. This recommendation might have implications for other rural service providers delivering HIV and hepatitis C education and support services.

The second evaluation determined that the Canadian HIV Transmission Guidelines are a useful tool in the dissemination of HIV and hepatitis C information, particularly when the Project Coordinator illustrated the information with examples that reflect northern living and when each participant was given a copy of the guidelines to take home with clear instructions on how to use the book.

The second evaluation also determined that the majority of CHRs and program participants reported having an increased understanding of HIV and hepatitis C in general, the spectrum of risk and harm reduction. The majority of participants also stated that they had an increased understanding of where to seek other advocacy and support services.

The project was found to be successful in establishing a presence in the communities that needed support and in generating open discussion about HIV and hepatitis C within these communities. As Blood Ties executive director Patricia Bacon says, “This project put HIV on the map in these communities.”

The 2009 evaluation also indicated that the project offered Blood Ties an opportunity to gain knowledge about what is happening in remote rural First Nation communities in the Yukon in order to better address the needs of those communities.

Funding for the project was made possible by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Non-Reserve First Nations, Inuit and Métis Communities HIV/AIDS Project Fund in partnership with the Council of Yukon First Nations.