Home and Community Support Services
Yesterday I described medical homecare system in Ontario. The other side of community support for folks like myself is a group of services that you have to pay for. These are not medical services, but they certainly make life easier. Home and Community Support Services of Grey and Bruce is a local organization administered by a board of 12 volunteers. The actual work gets done by a team of over 100 staff and over 1000 volunteers.
There are 7 programs offered to local citizens, and you do not have to have a disability to qualify for these, although the elderly participate more than others.
Movin’GB Transportation – volunteer drivers will provide transportation for local errands and appointments, and long-distance driving for medical appointments. With the major hospitals and most medical specialists located in the larger cities further south, serious illness Grey/Bruce usually means travelling.
Meals on Wheels – a service delivering hot lunches or frozen meals. This appeals especially to those aging individuals who require assistance providing themselves with nutritious meals. The volunteer who delivers the meals often stays for a visit, sometimes the only social contact an elderly person has during the week.
Day Away – a program that brings people together for simple social activities and meals. For both people living alone and for caregivers, this can be a big benefit.
Overnight Relief – for people suffering cognitive impairment, a weekend at a supervised location. This probably helps the caregiver more than the patient!
Friendly Visiting – volunteers visit socially isolated or disabled elderly for friendly conversation.
Housekeeping – trained staff will do basic cleaning or assist with grocery shopping and meal preparation. This is one of the services we find most helpful (I used to do the vacuuming and cleaned the washrooms).
Dining Club – a chance for a good meal and an hour of socializing, but only available in two locations, necessitating transportation.
All of these services strike me as a hidden foundation of our rural communities, all these support activities going on and you’re probably unaware of them, or of who in your neighbourhood depends on these. Most involve a fee, but it’s pretty reasonable in our experience. When you put these together with the medical homecare programs I described yesterday, it’s a pretty remarkable system of supports for those who need it.
Tomorrow, the entrapped caregiver.