Community Support Services - A Saving Grace

October is "Community Support Month" and the Central East LHIN is proud to salute the numerous agencies, outstanding staff and dedicated volunteers who provide crucial services like adult/Alzheimer day programs, attendant services for persons with physical disabilities, Meals on Wheels, personal care and home support, transportation to medical appointments and supportive housing programs.  Stories such as the one posted below demonstrate how the services provided by Community Support Services agencies are integral to the continuity of care for people in a well-functioning health care system, keeping seniors out of hospital or the Emergency Room.  

During the month of October and beyond, agencies are invited to submit their own stories highlighting how they are working with their partners to achieve the LHIN's Strategic Aims.  Stories can be sent to the Central East LHIN via email - centraleast@lhins.on.ca- to be posted on the "Tell a Story'" page.

My name is Cathy and l would like to share a bit of my story of how Community Care helped my mother, myself and our family come together with transforming our losses.

I would like to start with a little bit about my mother Rose. Born in 1921, she is the second eldest of nine children from a farming family out West. These were hard times during the depression. My mother left Saskatchewan, Regina on a train full of young women coming to Ajax, Ontario to work in the ammunitions plant during the war.

She met my dad at a dance and they were married after the war. They moved to Toronto and opened a restaurant, raised a family and enjoyed life and its regular happenings. The restaurant was a good choice after the war as you were always guaranteed a meal.  As years moved along my father retired from the Hydro. My father passed away in 2003 and this started a whole new challenge for my mother Rose.  After 58 years of marriage, she was lost.

One might think that a connected family would transition through these trials holding strong to one another. This is not always the case.   As for our family, we needed help and Community Care stepped up to the plate.

My mother was losing weight rapidly; her thinking had become so grief stricken that depression stepped in. With no driver's license and no social skills for being on her own, our family doctor intervened and ordered some blood pressure checks.  This was the start of my mom letting someone in. My mother refused all community participation and only took one ride through the community drivers. These things were too hard for her to handle and she became isolated. The residents of the apartment building tried to keep an eye, help her eat and give her a bit of a social time.  However these were demanding tasks and eventually our family started to fall apart after several years of caring for her.

It was definite she did not want to move and lose her independence. I always remember her saying “Once they come in and start washing your face, look out….”

With the family no longer able to meet with her needs, the road was looking too challenging for us all and Community Care came through with flying colours. A transition period my mother could have never survived without help. Saving grace was evident during the last few years while my mother was living on her own; she was blessed to receive extensive community care services, through friendly visits, regular calls and meals on wheels. My mother was trusting again and even felt free to call Community Care when she needed extra meals or just to talk at times I am sure. The last few years of my mother living independently was the direct result of the care, compassion and services she received through Community Care. 

Eventually a Brokered Worker was matched up with my mother, a woman from out West with stories that my mother could relate to. They often talked for hours about my mom’s younger days on the farm and how the area looks today.

Hope was so freely given to my mother through the services of Community Care and offered with integrity, respect and kindness. The support dollars needed by Community Care are often used for the cases like my mother that we don’t see,  isolated and in despair. Today my mother resides in a Long Term Care facility, and brings sunshine to so many every day through her smile, positive outlook and of course her wonderful sense of humor.

Thank you Community Care for helping to make this season of my mother’s life a treasured and valued time.  With Gratitude, Cathy Underhill

Submitted by Danielle Belair, Executive Director, Community Care Peterborough