Implementing a Harm Reduction Approach to Service Provision
Working from a harm reduction approach involves a range of non-judgmental approaches and strategies aimed at providing and enhancing the knowledge, skills, resources and supports for individuals that engage in risk taking behaviour (usually surrounding substance use), their families and communities to help them make informed decisions to be safer and healthier. As such, the harm reduction model is designed to meet people’s needs where they currently are in their lives. It’s approach to substance use is based on a commitment to public health and human rights. The main features include the focus on the prevention of harm, rather than on the prevention of the risk taking behaviour itself, as well as the focus on people who continue to engage in risk taking behaviour. In doing so, harm reduction at an organizational level, can seek to take action through policy and programming to reduce the harmful effects of risk taking behaviour.
There is no one size fits all in working from a model of harm reduction, since at its core, working from a harm reduction approach requires policies and programming to reflect particular individual and community needs. The identification of specific harms, their causes, and decisions about appropriate interventions requires a thorough assessment of the problem and the actions needed to address them. Redress must not only address specific risks and harms, but must also take into account factors that increase a person’s vulnerability such as age and gender, in addition to others.
Many organizational policies and practices unintentionally create and increase risks and harms for those engaging in risk taking behaviour, which leads to social inequities. We can help your organization to implement a model of harm reduction to organizational policies and programming that is reflective and accommodating to the needs of the clientele that access your services, so that you can truly meet your clients where they are at during service provision.