by Stacey Lavallie
MANITOULIN—Two programs on Manitoulin Island will be fully functional in the near future after a funding infusion from the North East Local Health Integration Network (NE LHIN) was announced September 1.
A total of $260,000 is being split between two programs, one that will travel around Manitoulin Island.
The funding comes after a June 27 visit from NE LHIN staffers, who came to Manitoulin to hear from Islanders what health issues were of the greatest concern to them.
“A vocal group of citizens spoke about the need to better support seniors,” a press release from the NE LHIN stated.
“In June, Islanders told us first-hand how older adults with cognitive and mobile impairments need more help,” Louise Paquette, NE LHIN CEO, stated in the release. “We heard and we’re responding.”
The first program, the Mobile Day Program, will receive $100,000 of the funding, the press release revealed. The program will stop in towns around Island and give seniors a chance to take part in activities and games that will help them socialize as well as stretch their cognitive abilities.
According to Cynthia Stables, NE LHIN director of communications and community engagement, the day program is in place in other regions of Northeastern Ontario and is successful. Unlike those programs, however, the program is mobile.
“It’s perfect for a rural location,” she said. Instead of caregivers being required to drive their loved-ones to distant locations, they can wait until the program comes to them.
The second program, which receives the remaining $160,000 of the announced funding, will go to assisted living services. The Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) will administer the program, Ms. Stables said. The press release said the funding would help about 10 additional high-risk seniors remain in their homes, rather than hospital or long-term care beds.
According to Ms. Stables, roughly 40 percent of individuals in long-term care beds in Northeastern Ontario don’t actually need to be there.
“These people are perfectly capable of being at home if they had a little bit of assistance,” she said. “We know seniors want to stay in their homes as long as possible, so we want to make that happen.”
In Ontario, the average number of seniors in the population is 13 percent, but in Northeastern Ontario the number rises to 17 percent.
Wendy Gauthier, a Little Current resident and advocate for assisted living, said she the funding was nice but it would be nicer if it was doing more.
“Certainly programs that support seniors living in their own homes are welcome and will prove beneficial,” she wrote in an email to The Expositor. “This announcement addresses an important aspect of seniors care. Hopefully, the development of assisted living housing for seniors who are no longer able to live in their own homes will be considered next.”