Program to ease transition to long-term care takes shape

·5 min read

SHEET HARBOUR – A new initiative for the Eastern Shore and Musquodoboit Valley aimed at helping residents transition to long-term care is advancing. A project coordinator has been hired to establish focal points of support called Well-Being HUBs, which will be located in Harbourview Lodge Continuing Care in Sheet Harbour and Musquodoboit Valley Home for Special Care (known as Braeside).

Project Coordinator Lesley Magee explains the broad intent is “to bring together existing community resources to create a Well-Being HUBs that will provide transition support and services for individuals and their care partners, who are likely to enter long-term care, those in long-term care and those after long term care has ended.”

“This will be accomplished by integrating existing community services, continuing care services, LTC services and future services to provide wrap-around supports through transitions in the care system,” she says.

The first activities planned for this spring are the educational programming component, engaging with community members on topics of interest to them, while learning about needs in the community that can be addressed through the Well-Being HUBs.

Magee speaks to the many levels of providing care in a long-term capacity that could be part of the HUBs.

“We are exploring the possibility of facilitating the development of the following services: navigation services (community resources and health care resources); educational programming on transition topics for elders, living well at home and various health-related topics; assistance with applications and government-related paperwork; coordination of peer support programming and volunteer visitor programs; and the expansion of the Adult Day Clinic program from Harbourview in Sheet Harbour to the other facilities in the area.”

As project coordinator, Magee began work in mid-January for the first stage of the project – the research phase.

“This phase involved learning about the continuing care and long-term care (LTC) landscape in the tri-facilities area (Sheet Harbour, Musquodoboit Valley and Musquodoboit Harbour), as well as meeting with the steering committee, caregivers, people receiving continuing care and those with first-hand experience living in long-term care.”

Magee has a background in project management and community development. While the Well-Being HUBs office has been established in The Old School Community Gathering Place (The Old School) in Musquodoboit Harbour, Magee will travel down the Eastern Shore and to the Musquodoboit Valley as needed.

The project will be overseen by the board of Harbourview Lodge and Braeside, as well as a steering committee with representatives from both facilities – including community members who have experience with long-term care.

“Short-term sub-committees will be established based on activities,” Magee says. “For example, we will be searching for community members with experience and expertise to join steering committee members with similar experience on sub-committees for different components of the project, such as the navigation component, volunteer visitor program component, the peer support component, etc.”

The HUBs initiatives will be promoted to primary healthcare providers, continuing care and nursing home staff. Leaders in community organizations will be informed, and Magee anticipates referrals through these avenues.

“We also expect people will self-refer and we will use the media to get the word out. We will establish a website and develop brochures that will be distributed throughout the communities being served by the Well-Being HUBs,” Magee said. “In addition, our partner organizations will assist with the promotion of the Well-Being HUBs services and supports. As part of the launch of this project there will be a contest for community members to participate in the creation of our logo, with details being announced later in April.”

The educational programming component, Magee says, will also be an opportunity to get the word out about what they are doing and feels word-of-mouth is an effective way to spread news in communities. They also plan to have a presence on social media.

“The communication channels will be whatever is best for the people who are looking for our services – in-person (with or without an appointment), by phone, email or via other digital means.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant many activities offered through the Eastern Shore Memorial Adult Day Clinic and to community members – through the LTC facilities – have been paused.

“This has been very difficult for elders and their caregivers because of the greatly reduced recreational, social and respite opportunities they have access to. Because the first phase of the project began in December, we went into it knowing the limitations we face because of the COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, we are exploring innovative ways to help reduce isolation while addressing issues like food and economic security,” Magee says.

Once safety restrictions allow, she says they will be seeking volunteers for visitor programs and peer support facilitators in areas such as mental health, caregiving, transitioning through the care system and chronic disease.

“Please reach out if you – or your family – are experiencing changes due to aging and need assistance navigating services – or if you have ideas for programming that will fill gaps in the care system. If you have specific barriers, we would like to know so we can start work on finding solutions that work for you,” Magee adds.

To find out more about services, call The Old School at 902-889-2735, drop by the office at 7962 Hwy 7 - Monday to Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., or email oldschoolhubs@gmail.com

Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal