COVID Pandemic forced Community Care to adapt to new normal

Changing with the times (From Left) Community Care Executive Director Debbie MacDonald Moynes and local Rotary President Barb Proctor at last week’s meeting. (Submitted Photo)

 

DESIRÉE DECOSTE

STAFF WRITER

At the 20th meeting of the 2022-2023 Rotary year, The Rotary Club of Picton invited Debbie MacDonald Moynes, Executive Director at The Prince Edward County Community Care for Seniors Association.

Community Care, established in 1977, delivers services which help seniors live at home. 

The goal of the organization is increasing awareness, knowledge and use of Community Care for Seniors services and programs across Prince Edward County (PEC).

As said on the PEC Community Care website, Prince Edward Community Care is lead by an expert executive director and staff who research and develop effective supports and services specific to the needs of the older adult population. These services are aligned with the provincial Patients First Act and regional Older Adult Strategy currently implemented by the South East Local Health Integration Network. Prince Edward Community Care also works in tandem with all PEC Health Service Providers to offer supports that will enable older adults to remain living independently in their homes throughout the hamlets, villages, town and rural areas of PEC.

Community Care for Seniors Executive Director Debbie MacDonald Moynes (Submitted Photo)

The organization receives referrals from many places such as primary care physicians, the hospital and more.

“We receive referrals from many places, people call us themselves, primary care physicians make referrals. In PEC were very lucky because right on the electronic medical record any physician can just call that up, fill out a little box, fill out all the information needed and just like that its faxed to our office. Its very simple, its easy to do, the family physicians do it often. We also receive referrals from the hospital and from many other places. Key is though, we need to get the referral because we can’t help people if we don’t know that they need something, we can’t help them. Once we receive the referral we reach out to the person and a coordinator would go and visit and talk to the person. During the pandemic for a time we did this kind of visiting on the phone and were back to visiting in-person.”

When covid hit, Community Care had to change things up.

“The pandemic changed us, it changed the way we provide services, Covid changed a lot of things,” said MacDonald Moynes. “But one of the things it really didn’t change is how people in this community care about each other.”

MacDonald Moynes then pointed out the social isolation of people during the pandemic was very hard on everyone, especially seniors.

“During the pandemic the social isolation of people in general, not just seniors but people in general, it was very, very difficult for some people and older adults in particular,” MacDonald Moynes stated. “It’s come to the forefront in a big way and we have several ways to address this. One of them is our active living programs and we deliver these through shared partnerships, we are supported by the municipality for some of the partial funding, we are supported by the ministry for seniors and accessibility as well. We also have done some interesting partnerships, for example you may say, ‘there are a lot of seniors out there that don’t have a computer, they don’t have wifi they can’t do this’, well we were able to buy 10 devices, we gave them to the library as its their expertise to loan out such things, they also help people use them and they also loan out wifi sticks. So they will get a person going on this if the person isn’t use to it. A number of people have done that over time during the pandemic.”

Community Care has a team of over a dozen volunteers who make phone calls 1-3 times a week to seniors.

“The other thing we do to address social isolation is we have reassurance calls that we make to seniors,” said MacDonald Moynes. “We stepped up in April/May of 2020 and we assembled a team of over 20 volunteers, they called 1,893 people in our roster just to check in and see how they were.”

People were very brave at the time saying ‘oh yes I’m fine, I’ll be okay’, that was early in the pandemic, then in January of 2021 rolled around and things were still pretty bleak we called 2,600 people this time and plans are in the works to make those phone calls again in the winter of 2023 because this thing is dragging on.”

The organization has many programs including Rural Route Reassurance program, hot and cold Meals on Wheels, Escorted Transportation Service, Foot Care Clinics and many more.

“This club (Rotary Club of Picton) has been delivering hot meals on wheels since 1980 when the program was established. So that’s 42 years delivering meals every December,” MacDonald Moynes expressed. “Our agency policy is, if theres a senior thats at home on Christmas Day or Boxing Day and they don’t have anywhere else to go we are going to deliver the meals, and we have Rotarians that have done that for 42 years, so thank you for your contribution.”

Community Care also runs a thrift shop at 153 Main St. Picton which has been in operation for the past 20 years. The Rotary Club of Picton donated $1,000 to Community Care this year.

“The thrift shop for the past 20 years has been our most important fundraising venture,” said MacDonald Moynes. “We have to raise part of our budget and its a retail operation and we had to close a lot during the pandemic so its been a real trial this pandemic. Operating a health services agency and a retail operation and doing both so we are very much appreciative of that donation so thank you.”

If anyone 60+ is in need of assistance they are encouraged to contact Community Care for Seniors.

“We are a not-for-profit charitable organization, our staff don’t work directly for the government, we don’t have high paycheques and huge benefit plans but what we do have is a commitment to help seniors live at home and the satisfaction that comes through involvement with really amazing volunteers, they truly are amazing,” MacDonald Moynes said. “And our services we believe are an essential part of a well functioning health system in this province. We have strong partnerships, and through that we can serve our clients better. We were really honoured to receive the PEC Business Excellence award in the not-for-profit category, and it was in 2020 the first time the award was given and it recognizes the hard work of our team, of eight board members, eight staff members, we have seven foot care nurses and over 400 volunteers and together we help seniors live at home.”

For more information please visit https://www.communitycareforseniors.org/