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 rooms would be crowded, and many seniors and people with disabilities would be struggling.
CSS is responsible for a host of programs from end of life care to meals on wheels, providing a blanket of social services across the county and connecting those in need to services.
“We are the community side of Haliburton Highlands Health Services,” says Melanie 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 long providing palliative care, driving patients to dialysis treatments, providing friendly visits, helping frail seniors with household tasks, performing foot care and much, much more.
Most of the supports they provide work to keep people healthier, happier and in their homes for longer, alleviating pressure on emergency and acute care services and freeing up spots in long-term care. They also create an atmosphere that makes the county worth living in.
“We would have more people leaving [without CSS],” says communications outreach co-ordinator Nancy Brownsberger, 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 of services offered.
“I see us as the community services link to the health- care system, specifically for seniors and adults with disabilities,” says Brownsberger.
CSS is ideally situated to help their target demographic because it is a department of HHHS and also due to its experienced and knowledgeable staff.
Hawkins, who is new to the community, said she is regularly amazed at the knowledge base within the office. If a service is not offered through HHHS, someone on staff usually 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 is hoping to increase its volunteer roster, particularly for those interested in helping with transportation, Home Help and friendly visiting. Those wanting to volunteer should contact Brigitte Gebauer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 wheels, the fun and fellowship of the Roving Diner’s Club, the important role assisted living and supportive housing play, the efforts of Home First/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 or drop in their “little green office” beside HHHS at 7185 Gelert Road.