Small Ideas: $10,000


Did you know that loneliness and isolation are as bad for health as 15 cigarettes a day? Isolated frail seniors and those with dementia and their caregivers are struggling. Formal health care only provides 5-10% of what these people need to be healthy. The rest is provided by friends, relatives and “community.”

Once, people lived in small communities and were aware of each other’s needs. Towns grew, the pace of life quickened, and women worked in greater numbers. Along with a vanishing way of life went the support system for elderly and vulnerable people. It seemed like an impossible problem to solve without spending a lot of money communities didn’t have.

Last year, with funding from the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP), Evergreen started a pilot project called Toward a Compassionate Community, where various groups came together to solve some of these issues. This program has been implemented successfully in other districts.

The pilot project brought organizations together to collaborate to address the needs of the frail elderly, those with dementia and their caregivers.

“Evergreen’s NHSP project was like a dream come true for us at Central United. I was tasked with the caring for our parishioners at home – many of whom had dementia - and I really didn’t know where to start. Evergreen provided a framework for our volunteers, skills training and gave us with the confidence to move forward – and just in time, as the need is growing rapidly!”

This year, we want to expand by reaching out to more partners in our local community. Only community can come together to embrace: A local culture of giving, kindness and collaboration, support for 90 to 95% of the time a person is not with their formal health care providers, 75% of the health decisions people make without any formal assistance, 20 - 26% of caregivers who feel overwhelmed and distressed and 10% of citizens who are truly vulnerable.

There are five conditions that determine success as a community collective. We already have four:
*A shared vision for change - “Improved quality of life for isolated frail seniors and those with dementia and their caregivers.”
*Dedicated staff to serve as a backbone - An application for government funding is currently being developed to cover the cost of administrative time working on this project.
*Collection of data and measuring results - Hospice Palliative Care Ontario is developing a data collection system for use by all hospices involved in Compassionate Communities initiatives in Ontario.
*Participating activities must be coordinated - Partners are being recruited from schools, emergency services (police and EMS), businesses, government at all three levels, community support agencies and faith communities in Markham, Stouffville and Thornhill.

We need funding for the fifth and most critical condition for success:
*Continuous and open communication across the many community players.

This past summer George Brown College students began the initial stages of development of a platform prototype which will enable:
*Effective communication among the partners,
*Communication between partners and the agencies identifying the seniors needing assistance,
*A growing database of agencies, businesses, and individuals identifying what they can provide, when they can provide it, and other conditions.

The community of the past might be gone, but we can create a new community that will provide support to the frail elderly. Help Evergreen build this new structure by voting for this project to provide the communication piece that will make it possible. The cost to the frail elderly to access this program is nil, but its value is priceless.

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Evergreen Hospice

Location: Markham