Evaluation of the Victoria SAFER Initiative

Funding body

Health Canada Substance Use and Addictions Program, CIHR (National Safer Supply Evaluation subaward)

Background

The Victoria SAFER Initiative was established in 2020, supported by funding through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Programs. It was developed and operates by AVI Health and Community Services, in partnership with SOLID Outreach. It offers an innovative model of prescribed safer supply that is community-based, nurse-led, and grounded in principles of harm reduction. CISUR/Co/Lab researchers have partnered with the Vic-SAFER team and people who use drugs, through SOLID Outreach, to design and conduct a program evaluation. The evaluation has run concurrently with program development and implementation, thus informing the service model as it continues to evolve in response to the toxic drug supply and local needs. The team is using a case study approach, involving document review, focus groups, interviews, and surveys with multiple stakeholders. Through its participatory approach, the study aims to generate evidence that will inform the scale-up and continued development of safer supply models in BC and beyond.

Progress to date

In 2020, we held a series of focus groups with people who use drugs and used concept mapping to develop a “user-driven” model of safer supply. Findings informed the development of the Vic-SAFER Initiative, and have been shared widely through presentations (CPHA, CAHSPR), a postcard and checklist and a practice bulletin. Since then, we have conducted surveys and interviews with people who use the service, to gather their perspectives on implementation and impacts. Additional interviews were conducted with program staff and other stakeholders. Findings from these activities are currently being prepared for publication and reporting. As a team, we continue to build on the findings of previous activities as we plan for next steps and the shifting context of the program.

Co/Lab received a sub-award as part of this CIHR-funded national safer supply evaluation (Dan Werb, PI) to continue its evaluation work with the SUAP-funded Victoria SAFER Evaluation. The voices and perspectives of people who use drugs will be central to this evaluation work and consistent with the overall principles and goals of Co/Lab.

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