Implementation of the Strategy
In its first year of implementation, the Windsor-Essex Community Opioid and Substance Strategy (WECOSS) brought together community partners across sectors to begin developing and applying interventions to address the growing issue of substance use in Windsor and Essex County. By utilizing available data and research, reviewing existing and best practice strategies, and engaging with residents and PWLE, the activities undertook in the first year relate to the unique needs of Windsor and Essex County. Some projects, due to the nature of their scope and the timing in which the work was initiated, will not make reference to measurable outputs. Where this is the case, a list of next steps has been provided.
2018 Activity Summaries
WECOSS.ca: A Central Information Hub
In alignment with the vision of creating a community in which substance use issues are well understood and guided by the principles of collaboration and community engagement, the WECOSS.ca website was created with links to community resources, information about the strategy and projects, and education about overdose prevention and harm reduction. Acting as the central hub for residents, health professionals, and community decision makers, WECOSS.ca provides one point of access for updates, information, and community supports related to substance use, while concurrently serving as the database through which the Leadership Committee can access meeting minutes and other project materials.
Surveillance and Monitoring System
To provide more accurate and timely information on substance use-related health outcomes and inform community partners on areas to improve local programs and services, the WECHU expanded its local surveillance efforts to identify harmful impacts of opioids and other illicit substances. In 2019, a partnership between Windsor and Essex County regional hospitals and WECHU was initiated to improve the quality and timeliness of opioid-related hospitalization data. The outcome of this collaboration would effectively reduce the time to receive this information from approximately one year to one month. Also, the establishment of data sharing between law enforcement is underway, most notably with the Ontario Provincial Police. The WECHU continues to work with paramedic services to further investigate responses to substance use related dispatch calls. Currently, a webpage containing a variety of information on the morbidity, mortality and use of harm reduction services is being developed by WECHU.
Peer Engagement Subcommittee
One recommendation that runs across the work of all WECOSS projects is the importance and value of peer engagement and meaningful involvement of people with lived experience (PWLE) with substance use. During development of the strategy, feedback from the community consultations and review of best practices in other communities both highlighted the importance of involving PWLE.
Initially, a guidance document based on best practices was developed to determine how to engage with peers and the WECOSS Leadership Committee determined an appropriate model for ongoing peer engagement. As a result, each working group included members representing PWLE and two separate meetings were held that were exclusive to PWLE, in which direction on projects and plans for 2018-2019 were discussed.