Wellness Clinic at the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter

The Cause

The Wellness Centre at the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter provides medical intervention for physical and mental health concerns of women and children experiencing family violence and abuse.
Research indicates that investment into physical and mental health care of our clients is key to their ability for short and long term recovery from family violence and abuse. Injuries resulting from family violence and abuse range from acute to injuries to chronic diseases brought on by years of abuse which can escalate poor mental health. The Wellness Centre offers women and their children safe immediate access to medical services that are confidential, thereby reducing client wait times in clinics, as well as reducing emotional anxiety.
The nurse practitioner has additional education working with individuals experiencing trauma from family violence and abuse. She has the capacity to carry out comprehensive physical examinations and mental health evaluations, as well has pre- and post-natal care. Her testing often uncovers unknown health issues such as developmental delays in children brought on by their experience with family violence and abuse. To supplement the Wellness Centre, our Systems Navigator staff member can make referrals to community agencies and other medic professionals when further procedures or examinations are required.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequential lockdown in Calgary, protocols have been established for the safety of the clients and staff. Initial consultations with the nurse practitioner have moved online via video conference or conventional phone. Face-to-face follow-up appointments are available with COVID-19 safety protocols in place, including the use of personal protection equipment when physical distancing is not possible.

We are asking Field Law Community Fund Program to provide funding for the cost of the nurse practitioner, non-prescription medication and medical supplies, totaling $34,500.

Who Will it Benefit?

The Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter supports victims of family violence and abuse who come to us from every socio-economic demographic. We support all ethnicities; however, individuals from racialized, Indigenous, and LGBT communities are at increased risk of experiencing family violence and abuse and face additional barriers to accessing supports. Additionally, individuals who have experienced family violence and abuse are statistically at increased risk of depression and suicide, physical injuries, psychosomatic disorders, and unplanned pregnancies.

The cultural demographics of the clients at the Emergency Shelter are, generally from year to year:
Visible minority 35%
Indigenous 33%
English Canadian 32%

The current pandemic has increased both the incidents of family violence and abuse, the severity of the abuse, and the threats to the life of the victim by the perpetrator. Since the lockdown in March, crisis calls to the 24-Hour Family Violence Helpline have increased as compared to the same month in 2019: from May 15 to June 15, 2020 there was a 95% increase to the number of victims calling who are in immediate crisis. The threat of homicide by the perpetrator has increased by 25% over spring 2019. With the increased severity of physical and emotional abuse comes the increased need for medical support.

The Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter supports 15,000 individuals annually. When reviewing our emergency facility and community based programs, children are our biggest demographic. Within the Emergency Shelter facility, there are more children finding safe accommodation than women each night.