During the COVID-19 pandemic, our communities’ compassion is coming into full relief. Everywhere, citizens are banding together to create support groups for the vulnerable and socially isolated in their communities. Whether it’s checking in by phone, delivering pre-cooked meals and groceries, or creating postcards to distribute in hospitals for patients who cannot see their loved ones, our compassion is mobilized.
HPCO is excited to be continuing the Virtual Activity Wellness Hub beginning Tuesday, January 12th due to high interest from participants. We are piloting virtual activities via Zoom meetings for seniors, people isolated at home, caregivers, and hospice volunteers. Activities will be run by facilitators in a fun and interactive group setting to increase social connection. We invite you to join our Wellness Hub on the following dates: January 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, and 27. Click here to see the activity flyer for details of programs that will be offered, and information on how to connect.
HPCO understands that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are finding it more difficult to gather with family, friends, and peers for support in dealing with grief or loss. We are continuing to explore our options for expanding access to virtual support groups to address this need.
Many local hospice providers do offer bereavement support. You can find out more by calling your local hospice directly. You can also find out more about these and other local or virtual programs and groups by calling the 24/7 Ontario Caregiver Helpline: 1-833-416-2273, using the live chat Mon-Fri from 7am-9 pm at ontariocaregiver.ca , or by checking out information and resources listed at 211ontario.ca
You can find information and resources at MyGrief.ca to help you understand and work through your grief. If you have questions or concerns that are not addressed in MyGrief.ca, you can ask questions confidentially and at no charge to an online team of health experts through Canadian Virtual Hospice “Ask A Professional” at virtualhospice.ca You can also check out Discussion Forums that cover a range of palliative care topics, including grief. Professional moderators monitor the forums to ensure a safe environment in which to share, find and offer support.
Here are some practical tips from Compassionate Communities on how to identify and support the socially isolated in your community:
If you are a hospice, community or service agency:
- Mobilize volunteers to connect by phone with your members, especially those with mobility and mental health challenges, to ensure they have the information and help they need; arrange for weekly telephone reassurance checks
- Spread kindness and provide messages of hope and reassurance
- Ensure people who need to self-isolate have a means to receive food, medication and supplies
- Offer on-line arts, music, exercise, recreation and social activities to support your members
- Find out what other resources are available in your community for social referrals, community care, mutual aid and caremongering that people can be connected to
- Widely advertise the community care you provide to let people know you are there for them in their time of need
If you are someone who wants to help:
- Support local “caremongering” efforts by joining or starting a neighbourhood sign up to help those in need using Facebook, Instagram or Whats App.
- Encourage your friends, family and neighbours to look out for and connect with people in their neighbourhoods who are known to be alone, frail, living with a disability and or are elderly.
- Offer to grocery shop for neighbours who are elderly or unable to go to the grocery stores themselves
- Give to your local food bank or help distribute community meals.
- Think about what you can start doing now, even on a small scale, to support a sense of community belonging and reach out to people who need you.
If you need help:
- Reach out to your friends and neighbours, or local caremongering groups, and ask for the help you need. This is what community is all about!
- Collect and share positive and inspiring stories of people coming together! We hope to feature positive stories on our Social Media accounts to express appreciation and emphasize the importance of these compassionate acts while celebrating those who carried them out. Please send us any stories you would like to submit, and encourage others to share their stories too! (Click Here) Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to view these stories.
- Keep track of information to better understand the impact of social distancing on vulnerable groups and the value of community response efforts.
- Work towards making social care a sustainable, lasting movement that continues to support people long after this pandemic is past. Compassionate Communities in Ontario take an active role in supporting people and connecting people to supports, raising awareness about end-of-life, and building supportive networks in the community. If you have begun your own Compassionate Communities initiative, or are interested in receiving support to further expand your initiative, join the Compassionate Communities Community of Practice, here.
To learn more, or to join and support Compassionate Communities in Ontario, click here.