The Power of Empowerment

Empower (v) : to make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.

Max was successfully discharged from Bethlehem Haven (BH) Medical Respite and was able to go back to their apartment after a month of being in the hospital and medical respite from an infection from a dog attack and overcoming addiction. However, after discovering that a previous abusive partner was still living in their apartment despite not being on the lease, Max came back to respite devastated. BH provided them support by insisting that they could stay another night at BH until a safe location could be arranged for Max. However, this was not ideal. Max deserved nothing else but to be safe in their apartment. I learnt a few things after researching tenant rights and the process of obtaining a Protection from Abuse (PFA) and sharing this research with Max:

  1. It is a long and difficult process to successfully get a PFA.
  2. Providing education to a client is an excellent tool of empowerment.

After meeting with the social worker and myself, Max felt confident in their decision to obtain a PFA and successfully went to the courthouse to file for one. They were safely in their apartment the next day.

The word empowerment is always involved in discussions at Bethlehem Haven Medical Respite. BH Medical Respite provides a safe space for clients to recuperate and receive acute and non-acute care. Our clients are often homeless, in addiction, or suffer from mental illness. Despite the comorbid conditions and the injustices that the clients face, they are often strong-willed and hoping for a chance to put their lives back together. BH Medical Respite provides the clients with the education, referrals, and support in order to make more informed decisions that are ultimately the best for the client’s needs and desires.

My first couple of months serving at BH Medical Respite were especially important because I learnt what it meant to meet clients where they are and the importance of empowerment. I am incredibly thankful for the BH Medical Respite team in showing me how to provide holistic, patient centered care with the homeless population. As a care coordinator at Bethlehem Haven Medical Respite, I serve clients by coordinating health education groups for current clients in Respite. I will also serve the clients once they are discharged, by providing them with health coaching and referring them to resources that help them stay housed. It is my hope that clients will have the tools to make healthier decisions for themselves and continue their new journey once they are discharged from Respite. Our clients deserve the same things that every other human does. They deserve shelter, nutritious foods, clothing, and so much more. As a care coordinator, I will do my best to help BH Medical Respites clients achieve what they deserve in life. 

All names were changed to protect the privacy of the client. 


This post was written by NHC member Ashley Worlds

Ashley serves at Bethlehem Haven Medical Respite as a Care Coordinator.