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Changing the world, one haircut at a time

Care in the Chair is a project to democratize health promotion.

Building on scientific literature from America which demonstrated that barbers can help their clients to lower their blood pressure, we have taken the concept further.

Care in the Chair provides evidence-based education and practical tools to barbers, hairdressers and hair stylists, so that they can have meaningful and important conversations about health-related topics.

In addition, we support hair care professionals to become integrated into local health promotion networks with community partners, including pharmacists, mental health professionals and physicians' offices.

"99% of health is nothing to do with doctors. For staying well and avoiding illness, it's not the 30 minutes you spend in your physician's office for your annual physical that matters most, it's what you're doing in the other 525,530 minutes of the year.

By supporting hair care professionals and giving them the right resources, we can help them to help their clients. Health promotion should not be the domain only of highly-educated and specialized healthcare workers, we need to raise health literacy levels in the whole population. Living a healthier lifestyle is everybody's business, and who better to have these conversations with than the person you trust to cut your hair every month?"

Dan Edgcumbe, Care in the Chair

The Problem

Our modern way of life has many advantages, but it is also making us sicker.

In Canada, in common with many countries around the world, rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer are soaring.

These diseases cause untold misery, disability and negatively impact quality of life, as well as contributing to spiralling increases in healthcare spending.

It has been estimated that 80% of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, and 40% of cancer could be avoided. Not through more expensive drugs, technology or ever more clever surgeries or procedures, but through healthy diet, regular physical activity and avoidance of tobacco use.

Source: Public Health Agency of Canada

Doctors and other formally-trained healthcare professionals are a scarce resource. Given the magnitude of the problems we face, there just aren't enough of them to go around!

Old-fashioned models of health promotion simply don't work in our contemporary world.

The forces of commerce, advertising and marketing and the internet are much more powerful than ever before. We are much more connected than ever before and the opinions of those to whom we are connected matter: they influence our attitudes and behaviours to our own lifestyle.

"Being a barber is about helping people"

Anthony Hamilton, American musician

If we continue to rely on the same, tired models to encourage people to live healthier lives and make better choices, we are doomed to be swallowed up by the growing tsunami of ill health.

The Solution

We work with interested hair care professionals and business on an individual business to produce carefully customized and tailored approaches to their needs and those of their clients.

This includes:

  • Online learning modules, so that hair care professionals can learn at their own pace, on their own schedule
  • Formal certification on successful completion of an assessment of the knowledge they have learned
  • Access to our dedicated online discussion forum
  • Personalized information and data about the health challenges in their own community
  • Individualized community-based supports, including relationship development and navigation supports to work in synergy with other businesses, agencies and professionals related to health promotion

Dr Dan Edgcumbe is a family physician with a long interest in health promotion. He hosts a weekly radio show, Country Doc Talk, which focuses on raising awareness of the determinants of health, and helping people take actionable steps to improve their lives.

Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk MLA is a highly committed and extraordinarily hard-working politician representing the electoral district of Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, Alberta. She is the Chair of the Skilled Trades Caucus, a member of the Skills for Jobs Taskforce and is a member of the Communities and Families MPC. In her former life, she owned and operated a hair salon.

The Care in the Chair idea was sparked by a conversation between her and Dan in 2018.

Jackie is interested in the potential for hair care professionals to contribute to health promotion, and in her current tenure successfully passed a bill calling for the introduction of EpiPens into schools. Bill 201 received Royal Assent in 2019. She has also spoken on two separate member statements in the Legislature on domestic violence and human trafficking.

Dr Peter Rawlek is an emergency department physician, social entrepreneur and founder of GoGet.Fit an app designed to promote healthy habit formation and wellbeing.


EXCITING NEWS! We are pitching in the finals of the Alberta Health Services LaunchPad competition as part of the i4 conference on 6 October.

We'd love to keep you in the loop if you are interesting in learning more about our project.

Whethether you are a hair care professional, member of the public, work for government or in healthcare, you can be among the first to hear about the progress we are making.

Click here to sign up for updates, launch information and so that we can let you know when are ready to start receiving applications to join Care in the Chair!