Home > Integrated and person-centred harm reduction services.

Harm Reduction International. (2021) Integrated and person-centred harm reduction services. London: Harm Reduction International.

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External website: https://www.hri.global/contents/2170

We define an integrated harm reduction service as a site or organisation that provides one or more ‘traditional’ harm reduction services (such as opioid agonist therapy or a needle and syringe programme) alongside other health and social services. In doing so, they ensure that a wide range of services are available and accessible to their clients.

Integrated services are better placed to treat people as people

  • Treating clients as rounded individuals, rather than reducing them to ‘symptoms’ or ‘challenges’ encourages self-care and solidarity, and empowers them to demand their rights.
  • Collaboration in multidisciplinary teams can ensure that integrated services are complementary.
    Providing a space where people can simply exist in comfort and safety is just as important as formal health and social services.
  • Holistic care and support can build self-worth, pride and solidarity, and combat the effects of stigma and discrimination.

Community leadership and involvement is transformational

  • The leadership of peers eases the building of trusting relationships, and ensures that people are treated as human beings not just patients.
  • Peer-leaders in integrated services have a unique insight into the lives and experiences of their clients, and can use that to provide compassionate and non-judgemental services.
  • Working closely with clients and community improves the range and quality of services you can offer.
    Ensuring a culturally safe environment for Indigenous communities makes services more accessible and acceptable to people who may otherwise be marginalised.

Integrating services makes them more accessible

  • Service integration is about making services accessible and empowering people to use them, without pressure or obligation.
  • Integrating services makes them easier for clients to navigate, and can support them to engage more effectively.
  • Integrated services understand the barriers their clients face when accessing external services, and can ensure that clients are referred to the most appropriate options.
  • Even complex services, like blood tests and consultations, can be delivered in a way that places minimal burdens on clients’ time and resources.

Integrated services can adapt to their environment

  • Enabling political and legal environments support greater integration and accessibility.
  • Integrated services know their context and clients, and can make sure they have access to the most relevant and safest commodities.
  • Sometimes it is necessary to recognise the limits of integration under one roof: some services might be better delivered separately.

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