“It’s a wonderful thing to have,” said Syd Drennan, a long-time Morrisburg resident, “I’m glad to have it.”
Drennan was talking about the Aging at Home program run by the J.W. McIntosh Seniors’ Support Centre.
According to Executive Director Janet Lever, the centre, “under the umbrella of the Williamsburg Non-Profit Housing Corporation was successful in their application for Aging at Home funding to provide assisted-living services for high risk seniors.”
“Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) approved the proposal for the 20 spaces of assisted-living services, 10 in Iroquois and surrounding area and 10 in Morrisburg and surrounding area.”
In a recent release, the LHIN stated: “Seniors in the Champlain region are benefitting from a new assisted-living program that help them maintain their independence.”
The program is “funded by the Champlain LHIN and operated by various community agencies.” These include several agencies in Ottawa, as well as agencies in Barry’s Bay, Arnprior, Hawksbury, Almonte, Carleton Place, Cornwall and Williamsburg.
Levere revealed, “since we started, 17 individuals have been supported with this service. We are waiting for a couple of assessments to be completed and expect to be up to 20 soon.”
“The aim of the program,” according to the Champlain LHIN,” is to increase health services for seniors in their own homes. This relieves the pressures on hospital emergency rooms. It also prevents premature admissions to long-term care homes, freeing these beds for people who need them the most.”
In agreement, Levere said, “we want them to stay independent and this can help them stay independent. We are in the business to help people stay at home and stay in the community.”
“And, stay out of the emergency department,” added Joyce Alguire, supervisor of the Aging at Home program for J.W. McIntosh Seniors’ Support Centre.
The Champlain LHIN professed that “early results show that clients in the program – even though they are generally more ill – visit the emergency room less often than seniors who are not enrolled in the program.”
In fact, Alguire revealed, this is the first winter that Drennan “hasn’t had hospitalization.”
According to Drennan, he has been in the program “pretty much since it started – about a year.” He was first referred to the program following a lengthy stay at the Winchester District Memorial Hospital last winter.
While he said he was well cared for by nurses and doctors who were “great,” he was happy to get home and would prefer not to go back.
While referrals for the program can come from different sources like a physician or caregiver, it’s the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) that assesses applications and makes decisions.
The Aging at Home program, Drennan said, “is good for anybody that needs it. It’s a good thing to have. It’s excellent.”
In Drennan’s case, he has regular visits during the week. “I’m going to be fine with the ladies coming every day,” he said with a smile.
Alguire pointed out that Drennan also has family members living with him who also help out a lot. “When families are involved, they stay involved,” she said. “We don’t try to take over.”
“Everybody works together,” added Levere.
Drennan does things for himself as well. While his personal support worker might start dinner, for example, he will often finish it. “I get to do a little bit,” he said.
As for the service provided, Drennan said, “there’s nothing that has to be changed. It’s great. The ladies are wonderful.”
In a pamphlet circulated by the J.W. McIntosh Senior’s Support Centre, Assisted Living in Dundas County, the available services are listed as: personal care, light housekeeping, medication prompts, exercises, meal preparation, shopping, laundry and linen change, security checks, Emergency Response System installed in the home, and 24 hour Urgent Response.
It is Alguire’s job to meet with prospective clients to determine what their specific needs are and to set up a schedule reflecting those needs.
Levere hopes to spread awareness that this service, which is free of charge, does exist here “in the rural area. It’s not just in the city.”
“The J.W. McIntosh Seniors’ Support Centre has provided community support services since 1991,” Levere reported, “including adult day programs, meals on wheels, and transportation.”
“The Assisted-living Services as well as the Supportive Housing Services, Respite Apartment Services and the Going Home program are all part of the J.W. McIntosh Centre’s Aging at Home initiative to keep seniors at home and avoid hospital admissions.”
For more information about assisted-living services in Dundas County, contact the CCAC at 1-800-538-0520 or the J.W. McIntosh Seniors’ Support Centre at 613-535-2924.