Putting community at the heart of health care

By Jenn Watt

Without Community Support Services Haliburton County would look much different.

Wait lists for long-term care would be longer the emergency roomswould be crowded and many seniors and people with disabilities would be struggling.

CSS is responsible for a host of programs from end oflife care to meals on wheels providing a blanket of social servicesacross the county and connecting those in need to services.

“We arethe community side of Haliburton Highlands Health Services” saysMelanie Hawkins manager of hospice palliative care supportive housing and assisted living.

Since joining with HHHS a year ago CSS has grown and developed existing programs all supporting the community in myriad ways.

A staff of 14 and more than 200 volunteers are busy all year longproviding palliative care driving patients to dialysis treatmentsproviding friendly visits helping frail seniors with household tasksperforming foot care and much much more.

Most of the supports theyprovide work to keep people healthier happier and in their homes forlonger alleviating pressure on emergency and acute care services andfreeing up spots in long-term care. They also create an atmosphere thatmakes the county worth living in.

“We would have more people leaving [without CSS]” says communications outreach co-ordinator NancyBrownsberger when asked to imagine a world without the organization.

“It wouldn’t be a pretty picture” Hawkins agrees.

October is Community Support Services Month which Brownsberger sees as an opportunity to inform the population about the vast array ofservices offered.

“I see us as the community services link to thehealth- care system specifically for seniors and adults withdisabilities” says Brownsberger.

CSS is ideally situated to helptheir target demographic because it is a department of HHHS and also due to its experienced and knowledgeable staff.

Hawkins who is new tothe community said she is regularly amazed at the knowledge base within the office. If a service is not offered through HHHS someone on staffusually knows who does offer it.

“The expertise behind the doors of this little green house is absolutely phenomenal” Brownsberger agrees.

Besides getting the word out on their lengthy list of services CSS ishoping to increase its volunteer roster particularly for thoseinterested in helping with transportation Home Help and friendlyvisiting. Those wanting to volunteer should contact Brigitte Gebauer atbgebauer@hhhs.on.ca.

Over the course of October the Haliburton Echo will be running a series of articles on the services offered through CSS.

Keep an eye out for stories on musicians delivering meals on wheelsthe fun and fellowship of the Roving Diner’s Club the important roleassisted living and supportive housing play the efforts of HomeFirst/Home At Last the adult day program and more.

In the meantime feel free to give the friendly folks at CSS a call at 705-457-2941 ordrop in their “little green office” beside HHHS at 7185 Gelert Road.