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Rural Site Visit Project

The Rural Site Visits team travels to all communities covered by the Rural Subsidiary Agreement in British Columbia. Their aim is to meet with community partners, develop relationships, and gain insights into their successes, innovations, and challenges in rural healthcare delivery. The team utilises this information to amplify the rural voice in discussions with health policymakers and to share stories of ingenuity.

RCCbc staff members Leanne Clare and Robyn Ellsworth during a site visit to New Denver and Kakusp
“I had the privilege of attending my first site visit this year, travelling to New Denver and Nakusp with Dr. Stu Johnston and my colleague, Robyn Ellsworth. Working alongside them was both an educational and enjoyable experience, which made me feel proud to be a part of RCCbc and proud of our team.”
Leanne Clare, RCCbc Staff Member 


Moved to a Community Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR) framework

The RCCbc Rural Site Visits project has transitioned to a Community Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR) framework. In consultation with RCCbc’s Co-Scientific Director, Dee Taylor, the decision was made to evolve from a traditional ethics and research approach to a CBPAR approach for site visits. This approach facilitates the sharing of rich information gathered during these visits with other communities, within RCCbc programs, and with other partners. By adopting a Participatory Action Research approach, communities facing similar challenges can exchange solutions, enabling our team to connect them with RCCbc initiatives and networks, and to reduce barriers to building long-term relationships with the communities we serve.

Site Visits have always been an iterative endeavour, and our shift to CBPAR aligns with the program’s objectives. Feedback is actively sought from all participants about their experiences both within the community and with the project as a whole. The team has aimed to make the site visit process more relational and informal, moving away from the constraints of formal research parameters that previously limited the sharing of collected information. This shift is particularly significant as all RCCbc staff become Community Connectors through the Community Engagement Action Plan (CEAP) and participate in future site visits.

Site Visits continue to incorporate the Two-Eyed Seeing method and adhere to the First Nations principles of ownership, control, access, and possession (OCAP). OCAP stipulates that First Nations control data collection processes and maintain ownership and control over how this information is used. Our team applies OCAP principles to all communities they visit.

Collaborating with the Community Engagement Action Plan (CEAP) team to mentor Community Connectors  

We piloted two site visits in Nadleh and Stellat’en in September, and in Nakusp and New Denver in November. During these visits, RCCbc Community Connectors planned, partnered, and participated fully, while building relationships with their assigned communities.

Communities appreciated establishing a personal connection with their connector, not merely through email correspondence or phone calls, but through direct interaction during site visits. They valued being on a first-name basis with someone whom they could turn to for assistance.

Connectors had the opportunity to get to know, meet, and immerse themselves in their assigned rural communities, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of the people and their healthcare experiences. This approach is invaluable in establishing and maintaining relationships with communities and guides how we serve them and facilitate connections among them.

Site Visit team members and Community Connectors worked closely to navigate and optimise the crossover and synergy between their programs

Expanded the Partnership Pentagram Plus approach

We have broadened our project’s Partnership Pentagram Plus approach by involving RCMP members in our community visits. This expansion has enhanced our understanding of the roles RCMP play in filling gaps and supporting rural healthcare:

  • Unique Insights: RCMP members possess a distinct perspective on the mental health needs within rural communities.
  • Collaborative Efforts: They collaborate closely with other first responders, physicians, and nurses to serve their communities effectively.
  • Safety and Security: RCMP officers often ensure safety and security during critical situations in emergency departments and clinics.
  • Innovative Solutions: Together with community members, RCMP have co-created innovative solutions to address healthcare gaps.

Fostered New Relationships

In October, we visited the Nisga’a Valley, with stops in Ginglox, Laxgalts’ap, Gitwinksihlkw, and Gitlaxt’aamiks at Nisga’a Valley Health.

This site visit shed light on the unique features, challenges, and opportunities faced by the villages of the Nisga’a Valley in healthcare. These villages operate under their independently negotiated Final Agreement—the first treaty of its kind that fully restored self-governance to the Nisga’a Nation.

During the visit, we met with a group of committed and dynamic physicians who, alongside health teams and Village governments, have developed innovative solutions and approaches to healthcare in the Valley. This visit also fostered or strengthened connections between RCCbc programs, leadership, and local Medical Director Dr. Christie Chan, helping to bring the perspective, voice, and vision of the Nisga’a Valley to provincial discussions


Explore the numbers

12 Communities

12 Communities

In 2023, we visited 12 rural communities, including 11 covered by the Rural Subsidiary Agreement (RSA).

32 Community meetings

32 Community meetings

32 community meetings were held in 2023.

440 Partner group meetings

440 Partner group meetings

Since the launch of the Rural Site Visit project, the team has met with 440 partner groups across local communities.

1 New team member

1 New team member

1 new Site Visit team member completed Site Visits Training with 2 veteran site visit team members completing the Two-Eyed Seeing training while meeting with Indigenous communities.

Partnership Work

We took a more intentional approach to our pre-engagement partnerships, particularly with local Divisions of Family Practice. We collaborated with the Northern Interior Rural Divisions (NIRD) to establish community contacts: Errol Winter and Joy Davy were instrumental in engaging physicians in Mackenzie and the McLeod Lake Indian Band. Their participation in the meetings significantly enhanced the trust and comfort levels among participants. Additionally, NIRD provided us with community profiles before the visits, offering valuable context for our discussions and deepening our understanding.

We continue to maintain close collaboration with First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) Regional Leads and Coordinators, focusing on community connections and engagement for all Indigenous communities we visit. This evolving partnership has proved invaluable, enabling us to learn from Indigenous Communities in a respectful and meaningful manner.

Plans for the Future

The Site Visits Project is dedicated to continuous reflection, learning, and iteration to enhance our work and, more importantly, to support the communities we serve. We are currently exploring ways to reimagine what a community visit encompasses across all RCCbc programs. To this end, we will work closely with the new Community Engagement Director and other RCCbc programs to strengthen our connections with the communities.

Team Members

Click on a team member to explore which other projects they have contributed to in the past year.

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