Yale School of Medicine to educate poor on basic hygiene

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The Yale School of Medicine has released the first-ever Basic Needs-Informed Curriculum for social service, educational, and medical professionals who provide assistance and care to poor and low-income families and children, with support from the Office of Women’s Health (US Department of Health and Human Services), family poverty experts at the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN), and the New Haven Mental Health Outreach for MotherS (MOMS) Partnership.

The new training programme is designed to expand the mindset of professionals by coaching participants to consider addressing the gaps in basic needs, and other poverty-related issues, in their agency assessments, patient/client intakes, and/or delivery of medical care to children, and families living in poverty. The curriculum teaches that the adoption of basic needs-informed care can result in a more effective, efficient delivery of services, and supports, NDBN said in a press release.

Joanne Goldblum, executive director of NDBN, and co-author of the Basic Needs-Informed Curriculum said, “Social service professionals often concentrate on ‘fixing’ high-level problems, such as mental health and/or substance issues, encountered by their clients, patients and students.”

Dr. Megan V. Smith, director of the New Haven MOMS Partnership and assistant professor of psychiatry and in the child study center, Yale School of Medicine said, “Becoming basic needs-informed starts with asking the right questions and thinking hard about how lack of resources can affect health and wellness. For example, a dirty apartment, piles of unwashed laundry, or no toilet paper in a home can be identified by medical and social work professionals as signs of mental health issues and a need for clinical intervention.”

The curriculum is designed to help professionals develop the mindset to overcome their own implicit biases and identify questions that can solve problems. For example upon encountering the issues outlined above, basic questions of “Do you have a vacuum, cleaning supplies, and/or laundry detergent?” or “Do you have money to buy toilet paper?” can save time and avoid unnecessary interventions by helping to identify behaviours caused by resource problems.

The Basic Needs-Informed Curriculum is being presented at regional and national conferences, and training workshops are being scheduled with interested organisations. (GK)

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