First published June 8, 2016 Written by The Caring Circle
We were told recently that although Bowen Islanders are concerned about health and the provision of health care on the island, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they know anything about the work of Caring Circle. One suggestion to our board, by a local councilor was to make sure Islanders know more about the work we do.
We always feel that we’re talking to our Bowen Community on a regular basis: on the Forum, on Facebook, in the Undercurrent and on our website. When you’re living and breathing your work, you sometimes assume others are also paying attention. From our viewpoint, there are many Islanders who are having trouble coordinating the health services they need. Caring Circle is reaching out to them in as many ways as we can, providing support. It’s rewarding work and we are told, at least weekly “I can’t thank you enough. This information has made all the difference.” or “thank goodness you’re here to help”.
Just how many Islanders have we helped since we opened our doors three years ago? We have:
• responded to more than 1,000 calls or visits, asking for information about health-related issues
• arranged almost 100 drives to medical appointments for people who couldn’t find any other way to get there
• served 1,150 meals at our lunch program (in partnership with other organizations)
• organized hearing tests on Island for more than 100 people
• conducted 30 weeks of mental health sessions on anxiety and depression, supporting over 40 people
• offered a wide range of health talks, ranging from Alzheimer’s disease, COPD, asthma and diabetes – over 50 Bowen Islanders benefited from these sessions
• hosted the Public Health Nurse monthly visits for families with young children
Here are three stories drawn from hundreds, highlighting our work. Our work is confidential therefore we have changed some of the details to ensure anonymity.
A lonely and isolated woman with serious health issues and no immediate social support network came into Caring Circle every week or so just to talk – to see a friendly face. After we built a relationship, it was clear that she had financial issues that prevented her from accessing appropriate healthcare.
Caring Circle connected her to an accountant who completed her taxes free of charge (they had not been filed for many years). This allowed her to apply, with our help, for a number of government support services. She also had health appointments in town and our driver program was able to get her to her treatments at Lions Gate Hospital.
What would have happened without Caring Circle? In this person’s case, as in many we deal with, helping her access the social support services she qualified for allowed her to remain on Bowen, paying her rent and otherwise supporting herself as opposed to perhaps being homeless or worse?
A social worker from Lion’s Gate Hospital called to say they were discharging a patient home and wanted to confirm that this person would be well supported on island. Caring Circle knew, because we have the pulse on many seniors’ circumstances on Bowen, that this individual had, in fact, no support at home, and lived in a very precarious environment. Through conversations with the social worker, Caring Circle had the discharge delayed until home nursing support and other accommodations were put in place to allow this person to rehabilitate more safely.
What would have happened without Caring Circle? This person would have spent the long weekend alone in very frail health, with no heat in her home and no food in her fridge.
A family with young children were over-whelmed with the increasing responsibilities of looking after an elderly parent. They came into Caring Circle to see if there was some way to get their parent’s needs met and respite for themselves. They were considering a long-term care facility but approached Caring Circle to explore other options, as they didn’t want to move the parent off island, away from family and friends.
Caring Circle suggested other options that might allow their parent to stay on island, including connecting them to a companion support worker, organizing rides through our driver program to health related appointments and arranging her participation in other seniors programming on Bowen.
What would have happened without Caring Circle? This family might have reluctantly placed their parent in off island long-term care. Instead, this senior didn’t have to move off of Bowen, the family got much needed respite and the parent gained more independence and resilience in getting her own needs met. Although Caring Circle might document that we supported this one elderly person, in fact, an entire family was impacted by the work we did.
There are so many stories to tell about the ways we have guided people to the care and services they need and we will be sharing many more with you over the next few weeks.
Please visit us at Caring Circle to hear more about what we do. We’re behind the Library in the Heritage Cottage on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Phone (604) 947-9100 – website: caringcircle.ca.