Harm Reduction Program

Policy

Category: Clinical Services
Subject: Harm Reduction Program
Division: Community Health and Wellness
Policy Number: CA.72.01.500
Effective Date: October 26, 2017

POLICY STATEMENT

Utilizing the principles of Harm Reduction, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) supports the Stay Sharp Program (distribution of sterile syringes/needles and crack pipes, along with other drug paraphernalia) to inject or smoke drugs as a means to reduce the transmission of blood-borne infections and other related medical issues (e.g. abscesses).

Harm reduction supplies may include, but are not limited to:

  • Sterile needles/syringes
  • Crack pipes
  • Cookers/spoons
  • Tourniquets
  • Vitamin C tablets
  • Filters
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Stericups
  • Sterile water
  • Biohazard sharps disposal containers
  • Crack pipe kits
  • Condoms
  • Safer use information
  • Naloxone

Harm reduction supplies are distributed in quantities requested by clients or community partners who support the Stay Sharp Program such as ARCH (HIV/AIDS Resources & Community Health), with the intent that they will be used only once by one client. Clients are encouraged to return used needles/syringes in the biohazard sharps disposal container. Information on the proper use and disposal of supplies is provided to clients. WDGPH contracts ARCH to oversee the Stay Sharp Program, providing outreach services and face-to-face interactions with people who use drugs.

Sterile needles/syringes and biohazard sharps disposal containers are purchased by WDGPH. Crack pipe kits and other drug paraphernalia is supplied by the Ontario Harm Reduction Distribution Program.

Clients who are accepting of further intervention are referred onto appropriate referral agencies. This can include, but is not limited to social, financial, housing and medical or drug treatment services.

Harm reduction programs such as the Stay Sharp Program are sensitive community and political issues. Information on these programs given to the public via the media must respect these considerations and give a consistent message. The presence of media and cameras on premises where the Stay Sharp Program operates may compromise the confidentiality of the clients, therefore, reporters and cameras will not be permitted on these sites without prior authorization of the host agency.

Good communication with the police is essential for the success of Stay Sharp Program, therefore, the local police are to be made of aware of the presence of any Stay Sharp Programs in the community. However, any requests from the police to enter a Stay Sharp Program site and/or request for information pertaining to an exchange require court authorized documentation.

SCOPE

This policy applies to all WDGPH employees assigned to reception, Clinical Services and student nurses working in this program.

DEFINITIONS

Harm Reduction – the processes and practices that help to reduce the medical and social burdens related to the use of legal and illegal psychoactive drugs without necessarily reducing consumption.

REFERENCES AND RELATED FORMS, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Corresponding Procedure:  N/A

CONTACT FOR INQUIRIES

Manager, Clinical Services

APPROVED BY

Director, Community Health and Wellness