Public Health Units were selected as the lead agency for this project because of their mandate to enable residents of the community to realize their fullest health potential. This is accomplished through health promotion, prevention of disease and injury, and facilitating social conditions to ensure equal opportunity in attaining health. In most communities, Public Health Units are the lead agencies for health networks and coalitions including those involving schools and school boards. These health networks and coalitions are often accessed and facilitated by public health nurses, which made them an ideal choice for the role of co-ordinator and primary implementer.
Public health nurses played a pivotal role in the project as lead implementer. In order to be successful, a lead implementer is essential. A critical element of the lead implementer is the coordination of existing supports and services within the community. The public health nurse (or primary implementer) creates bridges for multiple stakeholders to communicate and work together to create asthma friendly and supportive schools. A constant scan of the environment is needed to identify gaps and existing resources. Often opportunities need to be created to bring stakeholders together who have never before worked together. Stakeholders need to understand that they share a common goal and have contributions to make to achieve the common goal of creating supportive school environments to enable children with asthma to control their asthma and be full participants at school. The lead implementer must often coordinate the activities of the project and contributions of community stakeholders.
Examination of the role of the public health nurse provides a good example of the types of activities necessary for a successful program:
Establishing working and collaborative relationships with multiple stakeholders, including but not limited to:
- School Boards
- School Communities: school administrators, school staff, students, parents
- Public Health Units
- Community citizens
- Certified Asthma Educators (CAE) and other health professionals providing asthma care in the community
- Community asthma organizations such as the Ontario Lung Association (OLA), Asthma Society of Canada
- Performing broad needs assessments.
- Identifying available resources in the community that include all stakeholders.
- Developing, coordinating and implementing programming that is responsive to the community needs and capitalizes on available stakeholder resources.
- Continuously scanning the environment to identify opportunities to promote cross programming and messaging towards the goal of creating supportive asthma friendly schools.
- Reviewing and assisting with school board and individual school level policy, procedures and protocols that support asthma friendly schools.
The model for successful implementation recognizes the important roles that the broader school community plays in creating supportive and asthma friendly schools. No one agency or individual can do it alone. Schools, school boards, students, parents, health care professionals, and community asthma organizations all have a role to play and expertise to contribute.