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Healthy Canadians Grant Spotlight: St. Ann’s Bay

The Healthy Canadians Grants program is designed to provide support for community-run initiatives that will improve the quality of life of patients and vulnerable populations living in communities across Canada, and will have a positive impact on the community as a whole. The program is a joint collaboration between the CMA and the CMA Foundation and each year up to 14 Healthy Canadians Grants will be awarded – one $10,000 grant to each province or territory, and an additional $20,000 grant to the home province of the CMA president.

Thanks to a Healthy Canadians Grant, a community group in rural St. Ann’s Bay, Nova Scotia, is introducing an innovative program targeting isolated seniors in the community. The St. Ann’s Bay Community Health Group is partnering with St. Ann’s Bay Time Bank to provide support to the large number of socially and geographically isolated seniors in the area. The Reassurance Program will ensure that seniors living alone and/or in remote locations remain connected to their community.

The program employs the concept of time-banking, which uses time as currency. Members of the community enroll, listing their skills, interests and experience, and record what they have to offer and what they require from other community members.When those enrolled give one hour of service to another, they receive a one-hour time credit. The credits can then be used to receive services, or they can be donated to others.

Using the Time Bank platform, the Reassurance Program will create a volunteer-based check-in system to ensure seniors are not socially isolated and are safe in their homes. Rural residents who have restricted mobility can register with the Time Bank and receive visits from other members, who will check to see that their needs are covered and that they remain active participants in the community. The program will also provide isolated members of the community with transportation to and from appointments, visits to town and rides to community events. This is particularly important as the St. Ann’s Bay area lacks any public transportation options.

Isolated seniors are not the only ones who will benefit from the program. Those who donate their time collect Time Bank hours that they can use when in need of help. For example, someone who spends two hours driving a senior to and from a doctor’s appointment could put that banked time toward childcare.

Dr. ElizabethMacCormick is a physician on Cape Breton Island who has been working with the St. Ann’s Bay Community Health Group for over 20 years. Dr. MacCormick says the work ofthe group is vital to the people living in the area and “the Reassurance Program isanother step towards strengthening the St. Ann’s Bay community.”