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There’s Got to Be a Better Way: Punking Health Care

A colourful book cover that says, "A prayer for the crown shy" by Becky Chambers
Cover of Becky Chambers' solarpunk book

There is a genre called solarpunk that is a creative way of describing a future state of the world where humanity has succeeded in tackling the climate crisis and people live with respect alongside nature. It is a low-tech world that also embraces technology. It began as an art movement to counter the bleak dystopian tales to bring some beauty and light for our future. Writers and the artists can help us hope, if only we would listen.

Let us apply this solarpunk philosophy to the health care world. I challenge you to imagine the New Health Care World you want to see.

I’ve written down the elements I want to see in the New Health Care World. I’m no expert on social determinants of health or health policy, but from my layperson point of view, there is much we can do to create this world today.

In the Community

  • Walkable neighbourhoods, tree shade, parks, public bathrooms, outside seating/eating options

  • Safe Supply for All

  • Housing for All – subsidized, coop housing, landlords are regulated, rent control

  • Free public transit

  • Cities built for pedestrians and cyclists, not cars

  • Electric Vehicles only, with EV rebates and charger infrastructure

  • Universal Basic Income for All

  • Tax the Rich

  • Affordable and accessible organic and local food for All

  • Community Centres built in true consultation with the community – contains daycares, recreation centres, art classes, mental wellness groups, walking groups, social groups, education, cooking classes – not just for seniors, but for disabled people and parents at home with kids – provides drop off respite so caregivers can take classes

  • Mobile + Health Outreach Centres – pharmacists, Nurse Practitioners, dieticians, mental health professionals, labs/DI, physicians, peer support are all in one local centre

Patient Care is About Outreach

  • Options are offered so patients can choose to have a virtual, home or in-person appointments

  • Home visits/house calls, including care, prescriptions and vaccines that are administered door to door

  • When you are sick, someone drops off groceries and supplies for you and checks up on you

  • Paid sick and disability time for all, including people who are self-employed so you can stay home and be supported while sick

  • Gentle approach based on palliative to all health care – focus on healing, spirituality, patient comforts

New Family Support

  • Pregnancy care is offered in-home, at flexible hours

  • Birthing Centres are built nearby hospitals and offered as a less institutional option to pregnant people

  • Celebrate the birth of all babies, moms get a helper for the first two weeks, an assortment of local mom/dad/baby groups, 24-hour breastfeeding support, home visits by nurses, instant clinician access for post-partum care (mastitis, bleeding), easy options for respite + help with house, grocery shopping, etc

Care for the Caregivers

  • Retreats – for patients + caregivers

  • Care for the caregivers – respite, free mental health support, help with other family members, connection with peer support

  • Easier way to recruit and hire workers

  • Multicultural health broker model – a no-barrier, no-gatekeeping health care guide for people who need one

Power to the Patients

  • Patients are believed

  • Patient’s stories are listened to and taken seriously during the diagnosis process

  • Decisions at point of care or organizationally are led by patients in collaboration with the professionals

  • Paid patients engage with other patients in decision-making – strategy, policy, operations, system change

  • Patient and staff feedback is welcomed and used to continuously improve quality

  • Patients contribute to their own charts and patient information is freely shared with patients

Supportive Housing

  • Long term care and mental health care– de-institutionalize - people live in small villages with meaningful work and supports

  • Disabled housing – diverse options for supportive living communities

Beyond Traditional Medicine

  • Learn from Indigenous ways of knowing and apply to practice

  • Pet Therapy

  • Art Therapy

  • Music Therapy

  • Healing arts – massage, meditation, mindfulness, writing groups, art groups are easily accessible to all

  • Have a strong peer support element so it is the community that helps each other

Health Faculty Education

  • Disabled kids are included fully throughout school so students heading to health care get to know people who are different than them

  • Health faculty programs recruit for qualities other than grades – including demonstrated anti-racism and anti-ableism attitudes

  • Patients are paid to teach health faculty students


  • Hospitals are considered the last resort for those who are very sick – care is first given at home and in the community, not in the Emergency Department

  • Hospitals are welcoming places, beautiful healing spaces with water, music, visual art, patient comforts, healthy food choices, private rooms, quiet environments, mental health supports for patients and staff, step down units where to help patients and caregivers ready to go home, on-site childcare for patients/caregivers and staff

  • Offer many local options with extended hours for sick or injured people: primary care, first aid, non-urgent care, urgent care, emergency

  • Hospitals are inclusive workplaces – they hire and train staff who are disabled or chronically ill

I offer this list as a jumping point for conversation. If a point speaks to you, please think, write, or make art about it. There are no wrong ideas. You can create your own New Health Care World if you don’t like mine. The only rule is to not ruminate in the problem or debate what I've said, but instead describe what you want to see.

If I punked health care, the new world would be rooted in people and caring, not corporations and efficiency. The present is bleak enough; now is the time to imagine a better way.


I've written about many of these concepts in my first two books. If you'd like to hear more + attend my mini-workshop in health advocacy? Express your interest here.

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