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Breaking Down Barriers: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Community

Last June, we introduced our new interdisciplinary model of care

  • The interdisciplinary model of care is composed of several key pieces: the interdisciplinary teams, den spaces, auxiliary supports, external supports, and light touch services. 

  • The core of the interdisciplinary model of care are the two interdisciplinary teams, each composed of staff from several programs. The two teams will be supported by various other programs, including our light touch services. 

  • Each interdisciplinary team will have two adult support workers, one substance use worker, a cultural support worker, a nurse, and the den members. The key feature of these teams is that each team will work together out of their own physical spaces, which we call a den

How It's Going

We’ve had to adjust its implementation due to changing circumstances - namely, we moved out of our former community centre at the end of September, splitting our services across several locations in downtown Edmonton

While this was not part of our original planning for the interdisciplinary model, thanks to our staff's hard work, we were still able to implement the model in October. The dens are on the third floor of the Mercer building, directly across from Rogers Place. 

How It Works

The two dens, currently named ‘East Den’ and ‘West Den,’ are composed of their members and their staff. Members are individuals at least 18 years of age, currently homeless or experiencing chronic homelessness, and require greater levels of wraparound support. Elements of den programs include housing, mental health, substance use support, cultural support, and nursing. 

Upon entry to a den, members participate in goal setting with their team (either 1:1 with a staff team member or with multiple staff). Then the care team - including the den member - comes together to discuss the goals together to set the priority order and to decide who will support each target

“I've met with so many strong people who have been through so much and they still continue to push forward.” - Interdisciplinary staff team member 

A man sits at a table facing the camera. His backpack sits on the floor beside him. A meal is half eaten in front of him.
A Den Member Enjoys a Meal

Over time the team comes together regularly to review the goals, including a circle-based conversation to discuss progress toward goals and any changes they would like to make to their own goal plan. 

The Mercer Building. Credit: The Gather Co

The dens are also a space where members enjoy provided lunches and leisure activities. As we all know, sometimes what you need most is simply time and space to relax. The dens provide this atmosphere, and we are incredibly grateful to our partners at Gather Co. for providing the beautiful space at Mercer. 

Being able to offer services within such a space underscores our firm belief that each member of our community is deserving of a full measure of dignity, support, and respect. Facilities offering services for those experiencing homelessness and/or poverty should be every bit as nice as any government office, any church, or any building at all. 


Exiting the dens is a gradual, transitional process. Our interdisciplinary model of care works to provide a strong network of support for people who may not have one; at the same time, one of the core goals of den membership is to build independent networks of support (with family, with friends, within community, through work, and so on). At Boyle Street, our desire is that those we serve will need us less and less over time - not because we wish to push people away, but because our vision is for all people to be a part of strong, accepting, and respectful communities. In other words, for all people to enjoy wraparound support independently of Boyle Street. 

Our journey with the interdisciplinary model of care has been marked by resilience, adaptation, and a steadfast commitment to the well-being of individuals experiencing homelessness. Through collaborative goal setting and the nurturing of independent support networks, we’re working toward a future where the individuals we serve require less assistance, seamlessly integrating into communities that champion respect and acceptance.  


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