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Sustainable Practices: How to be in it for the Long Haul

Pillars of Our Shared Work #7 - sharing the foundation of Six Degrees - When we say “health”, it includes not only physical health but also holistic wellness, which is often related to the intersection of systemic oppression. In an effort to continue nurturing a culture of health, we decided to start a new section - “Pillars of Our Shared Work” - in our monthly newsletter to talk about the foundation that Six Degrees is built on. We are eager to share with you thoughts and resources on some of the topics that we are passionate about. In this section, we ask: How can we together build a community that values awareness for inclusiveness, respect for shared labour, and creative fostering engaged participation? We would also like to invite you to get in touch with us on any related topics that you are interested. This month we discuss how to maintain sustainable practices at Six Degrees!

Sustainable Practices: how to be in it for the long haul

Excerpt from the Sliding Scale Awareness flyer

When you pay your fee on a sliding scale at Six Degrees you are a part of a community of people who are creating systems and structures to make services, arts and goods more accessible to more people. You are also engaging with your own power (no matter how much money you have) and what your money can do for you, your health and your community.

As with all businesses Six Degrees experiences inflation every year. We want you to understand where your money goes and how what you pay supports Six Degrees’ work. We have built Six Degrees on a platform that holds financial accessibility as integral to successful medicine, successful, primarily, to the practice of sustainable independent Medicine itself.

The new sliding scale for Community Acupuncture will be $30-75 per treatment. The higher end is increased to the reflect the actual value of a Community Acupuncture session at Six Degrees. All services (community and private) will now include a sliding scale and we are also adding a sliding scale to the rental fees practitioners pay to share space.

If you look through the info and determine that you can afford to pay more, that is important. In the same vein, if you determine you cannot afford to pay more that is as important. This is about sustainability and unlocking the shame that gets associated with having less money. You knowing that you are paying as much as you can, can align us, not by the money we have but by the offers we can give each other with the money and skills at hand.

We have different rates than other Community clinics, it's true. Six Degrees practices Community Acupuncture in a unique way. We offer personalized treatments in a community setting. At Six Degrees we see only 4 people per hour, we take more time with each person, offer deep listening, unique treatment plans, suggestions on food and lifestyle impacts and hold space for the truth of how the layers of dominant society impact our overall health.

We aim to practice integrative and intersectional medicine. We share space with similarly valued practitioners and offer private sessions with sliding scale options as well. We are the first community acupuncture clinic in Canada, and, so far as we know, we are a unique multi-disciplinary clinic world wide.

In 2015, we did about 4000 community acupuncture treatments. Amazing, right? What an incredible truth it is that Acupuncture can be that helpful, powerful and healing and that by using a community model we can offer that many treatments to so many people!

So, with those 4000 treatments if everyone had an extra dollar (and, for real, not everyone does, but lots of folks do, some even have two) we would have collectively offered an extra $4000 to Six Degrees. Where would that money go? We could have paid staff coordinators more and be in a better position to meet annual increases in rent and other overhead costs. That's how an extra dollar creates greater sustainability for this healing space at Six Degrees health.

You see, while Six Degrees looks a lot like a community health centre or a co-op we function as a small business using a sliding scale system in a fixed rate empire. We do not receive funding from any grant, Ministry of Health or private investors. Instead, we ask you to pay as much as you can and then we share that fee across all the expenses. Practitioners each receive a percentage of the treatment fee with the other portion going to overall expenses. That is how each and every person gets paid, the rent gets sent and the bills get filled.

Here is one tool you can use to determine how much you need to pay and we have more info for you at the Front Desk on your next visit.

Consider paying the lower end of the scale if you: • are supporting children or have other dependents • have significant debt • have medical expenses not covered by insurance • have ongoing health concerns • receive social assistance • have immigration-related expenses • are an elder with limited financial support • are an unpaid community organizer and have challenges making ends meet • are someone who has been denied work due to incarceration history

Consider paying more on the scale if you: • own the home you live in • have investments, retirement accounts, or inherited money • travel recreationally • have access to family money and resources in times of need • have insurance benefits • work part time by choice • have a relatively high degree of earning power due to level of education (or gender and racial privilege, class background, etc.) Even if you are not currently exercising your earning power, we ask you to recognize this as a choice

For Six Degrees to be a sustainable Health Centre, we need most people to pay in the mid range.

We are aware that everyone's financial situation is unique – your situation might be a combination of many things listed above. We encourage you to use this as a reference in your decision making process.

Thank you for your time and consideration. We intend to offer the best of care when you access services with us and we honour your presence in the clinic and the energy you share. ​​​​​​​

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