Thursday, February 16, 2017

Do you use your community center?

A 2015 report on BC’s home support system from the Integrated Care Advocacy Group and the BC Health Coalition highlighted the loss of socialization in community health workers’ roles in BC’s home support system. The report, Living Up to the Promise: Addressing the High Cost of Underfundingand Fragmentation in BC’s Home Support System  (pdf file) was informed by focus group interviews and a wide literature search

A registered nurse interviewed for the report said, “Social isolation is thought to be a big reason that older, community living people…come into emergency. They come in simply because they are lonely. Since there is no other obvious diagnosis, the chart will often say: ‘Failure to Thrive.’”

One way to overcome isolation and become socially active is to join a local community or seniors center. There are benefits of participation in senior’s centres:
·       Social (making new friends, belonging to a group, and maintaining friendships at the center)
·       Psychological support (bereavement, relaxation, support with problems, and improving mental health)
·       Physical health (improving physical health, staying physically active, and eating healthy meals)
·       Activities (learning new ideas/skills, having fun, someplace to go and keeping busy)
·       Spirituality (helping with spiritual beliefs

Many successful community centers offer a wide rang range of programs. Successful centers address the demographic diversity of their participants, provide scheduling that meets the needs of the participants as well as providing the socialization aspect, while being flexible to the changing needs of the population.

These centers offer wellness programs involving fitness, nutritional supports, and health promotion. They offer activities that: enhance creativity, whether it is painting, writing, quilting, gardening, etc.; stimulate intellectual development through lectures, book clubs, concerts, and travel; answer the need for sense of purpose by providing broad opportunities for volunteering; and offer a variety of purely popular recreational programs such as bingo, bridge, mah-jong, etc. With advancing disability, they may also offer services to shut in isolated members.

Senior centres, neighbourhood houses, and community centres have a significant role to play in holistic health promotion. They offer a wide-ranging diversity of programming and services that enable seniors to continue to live independently in the community and “age in place.” Remember to stay healthy community is important. 

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