Town announces Link Care 55+ program

The Town of Strathmore has announced a new social prescribing program, Link Care 55+, to link residents with much needed supports.

Link Care 55+ aims to connect residents within the region over the age of 55 to non-clinical services, and was made possible through a grant from Healthy Aging Alberta.

“It is a holistic approach to bridge the gaps between the medical services that are provided by AHS or anything like that over the province, and the social care systems,” said Mark Pretzlaff, director of community and protective services with the Town of Strathmore. “It connects the health care professionals to patients directly and tries to fill the gaps.”

Link Care 55+ enables health care professionals the ability to refer patients to community-based programs which may improve their quality of life.

If a health care professional notices a patient may benefit from improved social connection and support, they can write a social prescription to a link worker.

“Link workers are non-clinical professionals that help clients develop and achieve their goals by connecting them with community resources. We are very fortunate to have a great group of professionals running Link Care 55+,” said Budd Brazier, manager of community and social development with the Town of Strathmore. “Our team is passionate about helping our Senior residents through social prescribing, ensuring that our clients are getting the supports they need.”

Pretzlaff added the conversations which lead to the program being set up initiated through Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) staff noticing and recognizing gaps in services while working with Alberta Health Services (AHS).

FCSS partnered with United Way in order to acquire the funding to make the program local possible, under the assumption the program would be a good fit for the community.

“Primarily, this program is focused for older adults, so obviously we want to get them some improved mental and physical health and feeling better living at their own homes,” said Pretzlaff. “It is trying to help reduce that isolation and loneliness that can happen when people do not have those support networks around them.”

Once a link worker is hired and a client is identified by their primary health care provider, the connection is made so the link worker can help the client with referrals to activities, or putting them in touch with extended social and recreational communities.

More information regarding Link 55+ in Strathmore and the surrounding area is available through the program page on the Town of Strathmore website.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times