Healthy community – Healthy individuals

Did you know that Centre de santé Saint-Boniface considers community development to be a key strategy in promoting health? Community development can be defined as “a process by which a group gradually increases its power and control over the issues that concern it.” (Hoffman and Dupont, 1992).

Ever since it opened in 1999, the Centre has been using this strategy to reach its clientele. The Centre’s goal is to develop the capacity of individuals and groups to recognize their needs and enhance their ability to make the right decisions, to link up services and community resources, and to support individuals and the community so that they can become independent, responsible, and healthy.

Community development helps foster community practices that take the determinants of health (for example, income, social status, support networks, education, literacy, employment) into greater account with a view to setting up programs and services aimed at maintaining or enhancing individual, family, or community health. Thus, the Centre urges individuals to take control of the factors that affect their health.

As well, community development makes it possible for the Centre to work within the community and to support it in taking charge of improving its own health and well-being. This approach constitutes the Centre’s main activity in reaching community objectives by encouraging communities to take an active part in decision-making that concerns planning, delivery and assessment of services and programs. This can be done by health-care professionals (nurse, dietitian, doctor, counsellor, etc.) as well as by the community development facilitator.

Members of the Centre de santé team are on hand to support St. Boniface community groups and Winnipeg francophones. The goals of their approaches with community groups are as follows:

  • To improve the health status and well-being of our community’s members by fostering independence, accountability, and solidarity.
  • To develop good bonds and relations with individuals and community groups so that they feel comfortable voicing their concerns.
  • To support groups so that they develop skills and good group work methods (identifying and setting goals, carrying out assessments, etc.) and to assist them in finding the resources they need to reach their goals.
  • To identify and create partnerships with community agencies, groups, and organizations.
  • To get to know their community and organize meetings to analyze the situation and draw an accurate portrait of the community, its needs, its resources and its potential.
  • To foster and develop aid and support networks through individual and community contacts with a view to improving the health of the community.

Lao Tsu, a pillar of Chinese wisdom who lived 500 years B.C., sums up this community development approach beautifully:

Go to the people.

Live with them.

Learn from them.

Love them.

Start with what they know.

Build with what they have.

But with the best leaders,

When the work is done,

The task accomplished,

The people will say,

“We have done it ourselves.”

Centre de santé Saint-Boniface is there for you! The next time you need support for projects aimed at improving the health of your group or community, call the Centre at 204-940-1155.