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Because your voice matters.

Patient Partner, Harm Reduction Policy Workshops

Posted • Last updated


Commitment: Long-term

Connection method: Virtual

Open to Vancouver Island Region

Last updated

Volunteer Opportunity
Are you a person with lived experience with drug use, either past or present? Join us as a peer working collaboratively with Island Health to have your say on the implementation strategy for the new harm reduction policy launching in 2022!


Lead Organization/Department
Island Health, Population and Public Health, Mental Health and Substance Use

Recently, Island Health worked with people with lived and living experience to develop a new harm reduction policy that focuses on reducing harms related to substance use. The next stage of this work is educating staff and our system on the new policy, and developing a strategy to succesfully implement the policy. Peers (people with lived experience with drug use, either past or present) will be asked to join several virtual workshops to share their ideas about:
• what they think health care staff need to learn in regards to the policy
• how best to involve peers in educating staff
• what kind of “swag” should be created to socialize and implement the policy.
• what messaging should be on “swag” materials.
• what messaging would signal safety to peers.
• if a community survey were implemented, what questions should be asked.

Level of Engagement
This opportunity is at the level of collaborate on the spectrum of engagement. The promise to you is that the health care partner will work together with you to formulate solutions and incorporate your advice and recommendations into the decisions to the maximum extent possible.

• A peer, a person with lived or living experience with substance use.
• Open to peers from: Vancouver Island region.
• Knowledge and experience with harm reduction.
• Comfortable sharing their story with a diverse team of health care staff and peers.
• Experience having worked in the trades and transport sectors would be an asset, but is not a requirement.
• Peers have a plan in place and access to supports to manage the difficult feelings that may arise after having spoken to the project team members about their personal patient experiences.
Peers give a lot of themselves: time, energy, and the sharing of personal stories or experiences that may be difficult. It is important that this not be done at the expense of your own health/wellbeing. There is a potential risk that peers may experience emotional distress through reflecting on and sharing what may have been a negative care experience. With this in mind, we ask that you only consider participating if you feel it would be safe and comfortable for you to do so.

• Please note:
– This opportunity, as with all Island Health patient engagement opportunities, is not open to Island Health staff members or patient partners who are currently employed by Island Health. If you have questions regarding this, please email
– The placement process for this opportunity may include an informal interview between the volunteer and the health care partner.
– Applicants must have previously attended a PVN orientation session and completed the Patient Partner Commitments form. If you have not attended an orientation session but you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Charmaine Niebergall directly to see if accommodations may be possible.
– As required by the October 14, 2021 Public Health Order released by the Provincial Health Officer, proof of vaccination is required to access any in-person meetings at an Island Health site. Proof of vaccination can be provided by way of a Vaccination Passport or Vaccination card, along with government issued photo ID. For patient partnership activities that are virtual only (via Zoom, video conference, phone, etc.), proof of vaccination is not required.

• Number of vacancies: 2-3
• Date/Time: Starting mid-February 2022
– 2-3 workshops over the course of several months
– Each workshop would take 1-2 hours
– Days /times to be determined
• Location: Virtually using Zoom
• Commitment (anticipated timeline): February 2022 – April 2022 for several virtual workshops

No out-of-pocket expenses are anticipated for this engagement opportunity. However, this engagement opportunity will follow the Peer Payment Standards for Short Term Engagements. If you meet the eligibility criteria but have concerns about your ability to participate, please contact Charmaine Niebergall to see if support options are available. We are always seeking to better understand and reduce barriers to participation.

Island Health is committed to reducing harms and stigma across our system and is in the final stages of developing our Harm Reduction and Substance Use Policy. This policy has been shaped by consultations and learnings from across health care, including the voices of people with lived and living experience. The project team is currently developing the education and implementation plan to ensure successful adoption and sustainment of the policy.

Health Care Partner Contact Information

Charmaine Niebergall
Engagement Leader, Patient & Public Engagement | Vancouver Island

From Our Community

Shana Ooms

Executive Director of Primary Care Strategy, Policy and Quality — BC Ministry of Health

Shana Ooms

Where those of us in the room may have debated policy or wording, patient voices made sure patients were top of mind. And as a result, significant improvements were made to simplify something that was otherwise complex. Patient voices at the table bring us back to reality in terms of what we are trying to achieve.