Updated: Aug 7, 2019
Eleanor Taylor knew nothing about the programs offered by the Windsor-Essex Compassion Care Community but she still signed up on the spot.
“I’ll take any help,” the plucky 61-year-old said Wednesday.
Taylor learned of the support network through her experience with Hospice of Windsor & Essex County.
The Windsor resident has been involved with hospice ever since she was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a neurological disorder, 10 years ago.
“I’m always looking for new programs,” said Taylor who can walk short distances but uses a wheelchair for greater mobility.
Taylor was at the Life After Fifty Community Centre on McEwan Avenue to share her experience with WECCC’s latest initiative.
As the lead sponsor for WECCC, Windsor Hospice received a $750,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Fund last November for a three-year initiative to establish “compassionate neighbourhoods” throughout Windsor and Essex County offering services to citizens like Taylor.
The program announced its official launch Wednesday.
WECCC director Deborah Sattler said the target is to establish 60 “new neighbourhood environments” reaching 1,500 people over the next three years.
Volunteer community coaches work with individuals to develop a unique personal care plan with a goal of connecting the individual to available resources.
“It’s so people always feel there’s somebody there to help them,” Sattler said. “So people don’t get stuck not knowing where to turn.”
Through a pilot program, WECCC has already gathered a database of 942 individuals in need of support. More than 360 are already working with WECCC volunteers.
“They’re always calling to see if I need something or they come back to check on you,” Taylor said. “It’s awesome.”
Workers asked Taylor details about her life, looking at the past, the present and her short and long-term goals.
From that, they put together a booklet about her which Taylor cherishes as “a legacy I’m leaving for my children.”
They also helped Taylor establish a website to track her medications.
“These people become like your second family,” she said.
WECCC is working in partnership with Life After Fifty to bring their programs to the 20 seniors’ apartment buildings that already work with Life After Fifty co-ordinators.
“This will have a huge impact on seniors who are isolated and don’t have a lot of resources,” said Joyce Nixon, executive director of Life After Fifty. “We can bring the resources to them. It’s difficult to navigate the system if you don’t have help.”
Initially, the compassionate care model will target people with dementia, those in the final years of life and those who need personal support in their homes for basic daily activities.
Eventually, Sattler noted “there’s 80,000 people in Windsor-Essex who are either a senior or a person with a disability. We would like to offer personalized, individualized support to each and every one of them.”
MPP Percy Hatfield (Windsor-Tecumseh) and MPP Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West) were on hand to join OTF volunteer Dan Allen in presenting an OTF plaque to Carol Derbyshire, executive director of Hospice.
Hatfield said the community care program “reaches out to the darkest corners of our community and brings people in from isolation.”
Gretzky spoke about the importance of keeping people “active and engaged.”
“We see far too often people in our community who have become disconnected,” she said.
Sattler noted Windsor-Essex has become a provincial pilot project for the compassionate neighbourhood initiative and that there are now 15 other communities interested in the delivery model.
For further information go to www.weccc.ca.
Written by: MARY CATON