Top News

VON service allows longer stay in home

Rosalie Little and VON continuing care assistant Wendy MacCallum prepare supper at Little’s residence in Hopewell. Little takes advantage of several services provided by the VON, which allow her to remain living in her own home.
Rosalie Little and VON continuing care assistant Wendy MacCallum prepare supper at Little’s residence in Hopewell. Little takes advantage of several services provided by the VON, which allow her to remain living in her own home.

Rosalie Little would sometimes forget to take her medicine. Or she would accidentally take it twice in a day.

Now, a nurse comes to her home daily to dispense the medication.

“This way we know she’s getting her medications consistently at the right time and at the right doses,” said her daughter Cathy Grant.

And Little and her family are grateful for this assistance and other services that allow the 74-year-old to stay in her own home.

“For the most part it’s made it possible for mom to remain at home and be looked after in ways we don’t have the time or capacity consistently every day,” said Grant.

“It vastly improved the quality of mom’s life. When you’re forgetting to take medications or taking twice as much, that really poses a safety risk.”

Without the services that Little receives, it wouldn’t be possible for her to stay in the house where she’s lived for 50 years, said Grant. Little spent many years beautifying the yard at her home in Hopewell, and she’d like to continue to enjoy it for as long as she can.

“We’re grateful she gets to keep all those things she enjoys,” said Grant, noting that she has two pets – a dog and a cat. “It’s important because it’s really about quality of life, and that’s where she finds hers.”

As a residential school survivor, Little has asked her children not to put her in an institution, said Grant, therefore a seniors home isn’t an option. “It’s important for us to keep her home as long as possible.”

Along with medication dispensing, the family uses other services, including home care and a service called Tuck, which involves someone coming in for a short evening visit to make sure she’s wearing her lifeline and that the stove is turned off. “Basically ensuring she’s safe for the evening,” said Grant.

A continuing care assistant provides the home support, helping with tasks such as light housekeeping, baths and personal care.

All of these services are provided by the VON Canada, Pictou County site.

As well, Little attends an adult day program operated by the VON, which is Canada’s only national, not-for-profit charitable home and community care organization.

Sheila Hoeg, co-ordinator of community support for the VON, said the program provides entertainment, games, exercise and a full meal. She said the seniors who attend also participate in making the meals and helping to set the table.

“She really loves it,” said Grant, adding that it provides needed socialization because her mother sometimes gets lonely. “She’s very happy there, and that’s a real gift for us because we feel bad that we can’t be there all the time. It starts at nine in the morning and mom doesn’t want to miss a minute of it.”

Little attends the adult day program three times a week, and tells her daughter that the people there are “just like family.”

“It gives her that sense of value that she’s productive, participating, that she matters.

She won’t miss one of her days for anything.”

“It gives her a purpose and sense of value because she likes to help out in the kitchen and help care for other people at program. She feels cared for, as well as being able to care for people,” said Grant.

“I think her other favourite part is when people volunteer to come in and play music for them from their generation – everybody dances. She’s always smiling when I pick her up after those days.”

Hoeg said the services offered by the VON for seniors are being used more often as long-term care facilities are full and because many elderly people want to stay in their own homes.

Along with the services Little receives, the VON also offers Meals on Wheels, a transportation program and foot care clinics, among others.

Seven foot care clinics are held in Pictou County on a weekly basis – in River John, Lismore, Pictou, Westville, Stellarton and New Glasgow. Hoeg said as people age, their nails thicken and a lot of elderly people have arthritis or can’t bend down to cut their own nails. “It’s not aesthetic value, it’s medical value.”

The VON Meals on Wheels service delivers more than 200 meals per month in the communities of Stellarton, Westville and Trenton, and the volunteer transportation program involves providing supportive drives to appointments concerning health issues.

Hoeg said the VON provides home support services of approximately 12,000 hours per month, and notes that some of their seniors’ programs are supported by the provincial government, while others rely on charitable donations and volunteers.

Grant said her family has been using the VON services for about four years.

“It’s really worthwhile, all services they offer really matter,” she said. “I don’t know what we would do without it. We’d find a way, but it would be a lot more difficult. There would be a personal cost to us and to mom.

“Even if I moved in with her, I still have to work, and two of my days are 12-hour days. Even if I was living with her, it’s more than what one person or a couple of people could do and participate in other areas of their lives,” she said.

“Without this service, I don’t know where we would be.”

Latest News