Seniors are doing it for themselves by dialing 211

The 1985 lyrics by the Eurythmics said, “Sisters are doing it for themselves.” It’s 2012, and Ontario Seniors are ‘doing it for themselves’ by dialing 211. Being able to stay within their own homes and maintaining the same quality of life, sometimes after a hospital stay, is a major concern for seniors in the South Georgian Bay area. A collaboration of six organizations (South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre, Georgian Bay Family Health Team, Community Connection/211 Central East Ontario, North Simcoe Muskoka Community Care Access Centre, Collingwood General and Marine Hospital and Sunset Manor Long Term Care) created the Home for Life Program to provide three critical and creative ways to assist seniors: making finding services simple, remaining connected to family and friends and participating in exercise programs.

The 211 Service Provider in South Georgian Bay is screening seniors for participation in the Home for Life Program, as well as volunteers interested in helping. 211 is also referring seniors to other appropriate resources within the community, which help them stay safely in their own home providing access to services such as personal care, light housekeeping, home maintenance including snow shoveling, friendly visiting and check-in services. The number one service needed in the area is transportation to medical appointments, often to Toronto.

211 is providing the central access for seniors or their caregivers to receive assistance through one or more of the three service streams of Home for Life. Buddies for Seniors links trained volunteers with frail seniors, to assist with determining what services they need to remain in their own home. Senior-aged volunteers are providing other seniors with training to use or set up various technologies, like the Internet, emailing or Skyping. One senior, now in her sixties is communicating with her sister in distant Romania, after being separated for 30 years, via Skype.

The Home for Life Program has partnered with the Victoria Order of Nurses’ (VON) accredited fitness program called S.M.A.R.T. to help seniors with group exercise programs or home exercise, as appropriate.

To date, over 200 seniors have been referred to the program. South Georgian Bay is one of the eight highest senior populations in the province and is expected to grow by 52% in the next 10 years.

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