Community Engagement

Artist: Ken Foster

Community Brain Health & Art (CoBrA) Health Initiative

I serve as a Co-investigator for the Community Brain Art (CoBrA) initiative, co-created with community members, healthcare providers and researchers in the Downtown Eastside community of Vancouver, Canada. CoBrA aims to share local brain health research and community resources with community members through art. First, we hold art-based sessions to facilitate dialogue and visual expression of resident experiences with brain wellness and injury, co-facilitated with community members. Second, we co-design infographics with community members and health care providers, sharing brain health information and recommendations. Third, we are co-producing a mural with local artists to convey brain health recommendations with the community.

Brain disorders are under-appreciated, modifiable drivers of daily challenges. Our team’s research includes the ten-year observational Hotel Study, which engages Downtown Eastside residents affected by precarious housing, and has found high rates and significant consequences of traumatic brain injury, stroke and mental illness. To engage the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, innovative knowledge dissemination activities are needed.

This work is supported by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Reach Grant 2020 and the UBC Public Scholars Initiative.

Neurology Outreach Clinic, Portland Hotel Society

We provide neurological care directly in the Downtown Eastside community, established by Drs. Thalia Field (Stroke Neurologist) and Christy Sutherland (Family Physician, Portland Hotel Society Medical Director). Specialty medical care can be challenging to access, and we liaise directly with local family physicians and nurses for continuity of care.

Photo Credit: Cody Briggs Photography

Institute for Healthcare Improvement Canadian Chapter Network Conference

As Canadian Regional Leader for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Open School, I led a dedicated team in the organization of a national three-day, two-site conference for healthcare student leaders. With keynote lectures from Dr. Kedar Mate (IHI President & CEO), Dr. Granger Avery (Past CMA President), and Carolyn Canfield (citizen-patient advisor), as well as sessions on health equity, technological advances, and quality improvement methodology, we provided opportunity for skill building and relationship development between over 300 trainees and professionals with the ultimate mission of empowering the next generation of leaders toward achieving health quality and innovation for all.

Honestly, one of the best lectures we've had to date. Andrea is an excellent teacher and lecturer, and clearly very passionate about her field. She is not only knowledgeable but is also able to communicate in a way that is both engaging and fosters learning.

"Building understanding" Annual Lecture

As part of the Health, Illness, and Occupation course, I provide an annual lecture with the University of British Columbia Master of Occupational Therapy trainees, entitled “Psychosis and substance use disorder: Building understanding to support the best care possible.”

Photo Credit: UBC Learning Exchange

New Perspectives on Learning in the Downtown Eastside: A community-university conference

I had the opportunity to participate in knowledge sharing with Downtown Eastside community members around mental health, cognition, and social determinants of health and wellness.

Streetohome Addiction Recovery Group

As part of the Streetohome non-profit organization's Addiction Recovery working group, we reviewed new and existing international models for addiction recovery to improve the addictions care continuum in Vancouver.