Colchester East Hants Supports Rural Communities During the Pandemic
As we enter a new year filled with hope, and say goodbye to 2020, a year that brought unprecedented challenges and tragedy here, at home, and around the world, I find comfort in knowing that the VON Colchester East Hants team has continued to safely serve vulnerable people and clients in our region. From VON Nurses, to Continuing Care Assistants, Community Support Services staff and volunteers, and those supporting behind the scenes, VON’s dedicated and compassionate team has made an invaluable difference in the lives of our clients and their families during the pandemic.
In times when, now more than ever, it’s important to support and stay connected to one another, VON’s Community Support staff have helped enable our friends and neighbours to live each day to the fullest – in the safety and comfort of their own homes.
Although our Adult Day Program had to close following the declaration of the state of emergency, staff quickly adapted and found a safe way to stay connected with clients of the program or their caregivers. Supportive telephone calls were made to clients on days when they would normally attend the program. During these calls, staff noted that the opportunity to engage one-to-one – especially with clients who were more quiet or reserved in group settings – was a very positive experience for both parties. These conversations also provided an opportunity to engage with caregivers in a way that wasn’t always feasible during a busy day program. Further, one issue that came to light during these calls was the need for assistance with grocery shopping for clients and caregivers, which was even challenging during “normal times”. From this identified need, a grocery pick-up service was created. Grocery orders were delivered to the door without contact, but with friendly interaction from afar.
Late December, a small number of clients started receiving safe in-home respite programming with VON staff. In the photo is client, Alex Chiasson, with VON Adult Day Coordinator, Stephanie Wilson, engaging in holiday-themed baking activities. VON hopes to expand this adaptive offering where and when it is safe to do so with additional respite clients in our community.
Food security is also an issue for many seniors in Colchester East Hants. Thanks to the generous support of many individuals and organizations, our team has been able to subsidize the cost of VON’s Frozen Favourites meal program, helping to make meals more convenient and affordable for clients and people who require extra support with mealtime. This subsidy increased the demand for the nutritionally-balanced $5 meals which, like our grocery delivery service, are brought to clients’ doorsteps contact-free.
VON also provides subsidized transportation to help clients with errands and bring them to essential medical appointments. This service is made possible by our incredible volunteers, and while non-essential errands and many in-person medical appointments have significantly reduced, our volunteers have remained willing and ready to support our clients – this is truly heartwarming. We are very grateful for their dedication during these challenging times, particularly with the added safety protocols of wearing a mask and face shield, hand-sanitizing and keeping their vehicles sanitized and clean for clients.
Kudos to the VON Community Support staff and volunteers for continuing to provide much-needed support to our rural and small town community during these difficult times. I am proud to be connected with such a caring group of people. We have adapted our services and moved quickly to respond to identified needs of those who need us most, providing them with caring support, comfort, and community.
On behalf of the VON Colchester East Hants Community Corporation, I want to extend my warmest wishes to our clients, staff, volunteers and community for a happy, safe and healthy 2021.
Chair, VON Colchester East Hants Community Board