Providing seniors with tablets in order to stay connected is just one of the services offered by the Lake Country Health Planning Society. (Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society photo)

Providing seniors with tablets in order to stay connected is just one of the services offered by the Lake Country Health Planning Society. (Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society photo)

Support helps Okanagan society reduce COVID impacts on mental health

District grants funding to Health Planning Society

Social support for seniors, those living alone, caregivers and those struggling with addiction are getting a boost.

The Lake Country Health Planning Society has been granted $21,840 from the district of Lake Country. The funds, from general surplus, are approved based on the assumption that 2021 will be the final year funding will be required from the district.

The Health Society provides a number of social supports to residents of Lake Country, including rides for seniors to medical appointments, a ‘meals on wheels’ type subsidized meal delivery, fitness classes for seniors, wellness checks for isolated individuals, subsidized house cleaning and lawn care, free counselling to caregivers, program respite, peer support groups, and a resource library about caregiving and chronic disease self‐management kits and harm reduction supplies to substance users.

Services are utilized by approximately 50 clients annually, although some operations have shifted due to COVID-19.

“We have seen the impact of COVID restrictions on clients mental health and hope to fill needs whenever possible,” executive director Melissa Scaman said.

“We have added several programs during COVID-19, including a tablet loan program for local seniors that includes training so that they can stay connected with loved ones or through our online social time while in isolation. Another program that we’ve been running has been through a partnership with a local restaurant, to provide subsidized frozen meals (like meals on wheels) to those who are isolating, are vulnerable or who have been impacted financially by the pandemic.”

Without the society’s services, many clients would be forced to move into long-term care, leave the community, or risk their health and safety.

The largest barrier the society faces in expanding the service offerings has been the need for programming space. It is currently renting space from a local partner, but planning is underway for the development of the Lake Country Community Health Center, with the necessary space to offer a full range of social supports.

The society is currently working with Interior Health, the Division of Family Practice, The Primary Care Network (PCN), Okanagan Indian Band and the health ministry to develop the Lake Country Community Health Center (CHC), which is planning to open in 2021.

The centre would be open seven days a week and provide after-hours care, according to a district of Lake Country report.

“The Health Center will fill critical gaps in primary care and mental health in the community, as identified in a recent physician survey and a feasibility study,” the report reads.

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