ACCESS Centres offer “one-stop shop” for health, social services needs
By Eve Omar
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Monday, July 19, 2021
If you had to go to separate stores for every item on your grocery list, I'm betting it wouldn't take long before you screamed, "There has to be a better way!"
Not so many years ago, trying to access services for all of your health and social services needs might have resulted in the same sort of frustration, as you bounced from one health-care facility or government office to another. Minimizing that frustration was a major impetus behind the creation of Winnipeg's seven ACCESS Centres, some of which have been around for almost two decades.
Offering access to a wide range of health and social services tailored to the communities they serve, ACCESS Centres and Health and Social Services offices throughout the city act as "one-stop shops" for information and services that recognize that health and social services needs are often inseparable - that one can't be managed effectively without the other.
Imagine, for instance, that you have a chronic illness such as diabetes or heart disease, that you're currently out of work, and that your situation has resulted in severe anxiety and depression. In a scenario like that, you might spend the better part of week trying to book a doctor's appointment, applying for Employment and Income Assistance, and investigating what mental health supports were available in your neighbourhood.
Or, imagine this: you're a senior recently discharged from the hospital, and you need to access home care services, meal support, and advice on how you can maintain and improve your health so that you can continue to live in your own home and improve your quality of life.
These are the types of complex health and social services needs that ACCESS Centres were designed to help you with. Over the years, they have developed a well-earned reputation for putting clients in touch with the services they need. Many of those services are provided in-house, while others are provided by an extensive list of community clinics and organizations. The important thing to remember is that you can get access to them with a maximum of convenience and a minimum of run-around.
Though there are ACCESS Centres and Health and Social Services offices with core services and programs located throughout the city, but no two offer access to an identical suite of health and social services. That's because each of the neighbourhoods they serve have specific needs. ACCESS Downtown, for instance, has a greater focus on supports for targeted to Indigenous and newcomer populations, whereas my home base - ACCESS Winnipeg West - places greater emphasis on health and social supports relating to chronic disease and seniors.
In similar fashion, some ACCESS Centres feature walk-in clinics, while others can direct you to existing walk-in clinics in the vicinity. Access to many services are provided on-site, or by connecting clients to services offered by our many community partners. These range from food banks and community kitchens, to medical clinics and seniors' programs, to name just a few examples.
The roots of our seven ACCESS Centres can be traced back to 2004 and the creation of Winnipeg Integrated Services (WIS), a partnership between the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA), the department of Families (formerly Manitoba Family Services and Housing), and Manitoba Health. The partnership had a simple but important goal of achieving a greater integration of health and social services while making it easier for citizens to access services - including primary care - and information about resources.
Since the launch of the first ACCESS Centre almost two decades ago, ACCESS Centres have worked hard to provide an accessible, efficient means of connecting you with the health and social services you need. They've allowed those of us in health-care and government to be better coordinated through improved communication and collaboration. The result has been a holistic, "big-picture" approach to the delivery of services, and an improved ability to problem-solve on behalf of the clients we serve.
If you've already been to an ACCESS Centre, you likely already know what a time-saver they can be. They've gone a long way to helping eliminate the need for multiple appointments in different locations. I suspect, however, that for every client we've served, there are several more people who have driven or walked by and wondered exactly what goes on behind our walls.
Now you know, and I encourage you to explore - either now, or as the need arises - what we have to offer. I'm confident you'll find us a convenient way of accessing the health and social services you need with a minimum of hassle.
As always, we're here to serve.
Eve Omar is Community Area Director at the Access Winnipeg West.
There's an ACCESS Centre near you
640 Main Street
ACCESS Fort Garry
135 Plaza Drive
785 Keewatin Street
ACCESS River East
975 Henderson Highway
ACCESS St. Boniface
170 Goulet Street
845 Regent Avenue West
ACCESS Winnipeg West
280 Booth Drive
Services offered at each of Winnipeg's seven ACCESS Centre vary, but can include access to the following:
- Community Mental Health
- Employment and Income Assistance
- Employment Supports for Persons with Disabilities
- Healthy Sexuality and Harm Reduction
- Home Care
- Primary Care and Walk-In Clinics
- Support for seniors
Call or visit your local ACCESS Centre for details.