The Observer Article: New Pathway Opens for Aging Adults Seeking Services in Lambton

October 26, 2020

Big thanks to The Sarnia Observer for sharing about the Care Pathway for Older Adults

To access the program call 519-336-0120 ext. 251

There is now a place older adults, as well as their caregivers and family members, can call in the Sarnia area when they are looking for support and services during the pandemic.

The Family Counselling Centre’s new Care Pathway for Older Adults is a partnership with Lambton public health intended to work in collaboration with other medical and social service agencies in Lambton County.

It’s using the centre’s distress line and Tel-Check services to ensure older adults have a way to easily access support services while staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the agencies said.

The local number for the distress line is 519-336-3000, and the toll-free number is 1-888-347-8737. Referrals and self-referrals to the Tel-Check program can be made by calling 519-336-0120 ext. 251.

“We know that the severity of COVID-19 disproportionately impacts older adults, and that feelings of isolation can be profoundly impactful to this community,” Dr. Sudit Ranade, Lambton County’s medical officer of health, said in a news release.

Care Pathway for Older Adults will ensure that no one is left behind, and (they) can access services that will help them.”

The partnership came out of a conversation Ranade had with medical and social agencies, where he urged the community to “get in front of ensuring older adults, and people who were at greater risk of serious health implications, can remain safely at home and in good health,” said Donna Martin, program co-ordinator for the Tele-Check and distress line at the counselling centre.

“What we know is that there is a huge ripple effect when people are socially isolated,” Martin said. “It impacts their physical well-being and their mental health.”

Calls to the centre’s distress line have increased since the pandemic began, including calls from seniors struggling with depression and anxiety, Martin said.

She said they were also hearing from caregivers, including adult children living outside of the area, concerned about aging residents living alone in the Sarnia area, and looking for ways they could be supported.

“It became evident we could become that single point of access for services,” Martin said. “We had the infrastructure in place.”

Hani Dajani, the centre’s executive director, said in the news release that financial support from the province’s Local Health Integration Network and United Way Sarnia-Lambton allowed for an increase in the capacity for the Tel-Check and distress line programs.

The programs have 60 trained volunteers who have been working remotely and have access to referral information for support and programs offered at the counselling centre, as well as elsewhere in the community.

“We’re going to be working with the medical community and social services community to ensure that people are being directed to the right place,” Martin said.

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