In 2014, an audit of emergency departments’ (EDs) patient charts determined that while First Nations patients with Indian Status could be identified through their status numbers, it was difficult to identify Métis people who were visiting EDs, the number admitted to hospital, their length of stay and the reasons for why they were admitted.
“Without this information it is impossible for us to track Métis patients’ use of EDs and their hospital stays,” says Dr. Caroline Tait, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Lead of First Peoples, First Person Indigenous Mental Health Research Network, Canadian Depression Research and Intervention Network. “This information is critical if we want to see improvements to healthcare services for Métis people.”
The creation of a clinical intake tool for self-identification by Métis patients would be a valuable resource for the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) and the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan (MNS) because it would provide information about the movement of Métis patients through EDs and hospital care. This would allow for a better understanding of the experiences of Métis patients and their families within the SHR, what specific gaps and barriers exist, and create an opportunity for patient-centered research, policy development and changes to health care that privileges the voices of Métis patients and their families. The MNS and the SHR recognize that before a culturally safe clinical tool can be created and applied to patient intake, a formalized agreement about the governance of potential data generated from the use of the tool is required.
As a result, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Saskatchewan, health representatives from the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan, health and policy managers from the Saskatoon Health Region and a Métis graduate student were recently awarded a SHRF Collaborative Innovation Development grant to improve research governance, health care policies and patient-oriented care delivered to Métis peoples of Saskatchewan.
“I think our health region is being very progressive,” says Dr. Tait, “particularly, Cory Neudorf, Gabe Lafond and Corey Miller. These three people really see that in order to move this project forward we need the involvement of Métis people.”
Métis people have unique health needs, and an overall gap exists between the health status of Métis people and that of the non-Métis population. The aim of the study is to develop a robust Métis-specific research governance model that can be employed for a range of research partnerships.
“We are drawing attention to the issue in a new way,” says Dr. Tait. “Specifically, in terms of how we can use this clinical tool to inform the healthcare system better and ensure that the governance benefits the Métis people.”
Health research for Métis people requires strong community input; and better outcomes hinge on the sustained effort and partnership between the researcher, their institution and the community.
Read more stories of collaborative teams working to better the health of Saskatchewan people in Research for Health.