Brokering for the primary healthcare needs of recent immigrant families in Atlantic, Canada
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AIM: This case study describes how broker organizations supported a network of community-based services to work together to address the primary healthcare needs of recent immigrant families with young children. BACKGROUND: In parts of Canada with low levels of immigration compared with large urban centres, service providers may need to collaborate more closely with one another so that cultural competencies and resources are shared. Providers within Atlantic Canada, with its relatively small immigrant population, were faced with such a challenge. METHODS: Social network analysis and qualitative inquiry were the methods used within this case study. Twenty-seven organizations and four proxy organizations representing other organization types were identified as part of the network serving a geographically bounded neighbourhood within a mid-sized urban centre in Atlantic Canada in 2009. Twenty-one of the 27 organizations participated in the network survey and 14 key informants from the service community were interviewed. Findings Broker organizations were identified as pivotal for ensuring connections among network members, for supporting immigrant family access to services through their involvement with multiple providers, and for developing cultural competence capacities in the system overall. Network cohesiveness differed depending on the type of need being addressed, as did the organizations playing the role of broker. Service providers were able to extend their reach through the co-location of services in local centres and schools attended by immigrant families and their children. The study demonstrates the value of ties across service sectors facilitated by broker organizations to ensure the delivery of comprehensive services to young immigrant families challenged by an unfamiliar system of care.
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