Health and the health system extend much further than treating individuals once they have become ill or injured. It also includes how they can be supported in making healthy choices in order to help prevent some of the illness or injuries.
Population health promotion is is an approach used to improve well-being of the entire population by addressing the range of factors that affect people’s health within homes, schools, workplaces and communities. The Population Health Promotion Practitioner works within this framework by working in partnership with communities to influence the personal, social, economic, environmental and cultural contexts that affect health so people from all stages of life (early years to older adulthood) have a fair opportunity to live a healthy and productive life, regardless of their income, education or ethnic background. In other words, we look at the factors that may make it difficult for people to make the healthy choices. This could include access to healthy food within walking distance, safe housing, or having to choose between paying the power bill or buying food.
There are foundational components to population health promotion. These include:
- Partnerships – the root causes are the responsibility of numerous stakeholders, sharing of limited resources to affect positive change
- Looking at the bigger picture – root causes
- Recognize the importance of community
- Develop, implement, raise awareness of population health promotion and evaluate standards and best practices
The Population Health Promotion Coordinator works with, but is not limited to, the following initiatives:
- Literacy – goes beyond being able to read. Literacy addresses knowledge, skill and understanding at all life stages (school, home, work, safety measures, etc.). Staff work with the West Central Literacy Committee to promote the importance of family literacy principles (encourage learning and bonding), training local advocates to provide learning opportunities within their home communities/organizations, and preparing for school and future employment.
- TTYL (Talking To Youth Live) – work with the school divisions to provide interactive educational events for grade 8 students. Mental well-being, addictions, coping skills, identifying why young people may choose to use risky behaviours to deal with situations and developing support systems are addressed.
- Tobacco reduction – make connections to assistive programs/options, work with other stakeholders on a provincial level to affect wide change and educational opportunities.
- Early years – recognizing the importance that the early years (ages 0-5) have on lifelong development. This is done by supporting HHR staff and health professionals in their work related to early years populations and working with stakeholders on the West Central Early Years Coalition to provide educational opportunities for young families and communities.
- Seniors – support communities in the Age-Friendly initiative, which is part of a federal initiative to engage seniors and their communities in taking action to help make their communities healthier, safer and better places to live. A community committee works to celebrate what makes their rural home a great place for people of all ages to live and thrive, as well as what can be improved on.
Health Canada – www.canada.ca/en/health-canada.html
Public Health Agency of Canada – www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
Saskatchewan Coalition for Tobacco Reduction – www.sctr.ca
Age Friendly Saskatchewan – www.agefriendlysk.ca