“I feel safe, my husband feels safe, we have a terrific PSW…I feel comfortable that my husband is in good hands,” says Kam Weingarten, who cares for her 88-year old husband who has Zenker Diverticulum, a condition that causes pneumonia and aspiration. Over two million people in 2012 received some form of care at home (Stat Canada, 2012) and a growing number prefer being at home with their loved ones. To ensure this can happen caregivers need meaningful support services. VHA’s Activation pilot program is just that.
The program provides community support to help vulnerable caregivers. It gives much needed respite to low-income families with live-in caregivers who struggle to provide care to chronically-ill family members. Trained PSWs conduct stimulating activities such as listening to music, making tea together or going for walks with clients, while caregivers can use that time to “catch up” on their personal life. “He used to be very active, going to the gym five days a week for 40 years and now he can’t exercise at all….his legs have given away too,” informs Kam. This has been both physically and mentally challenging for the couple who are limited by what they can do and are mostly house bound. VHA’s Activation program has, according to Kam, been a great help: “There are so many improvements in him [her husband], he’s more social, laughs a lot, loves the company and does things that he wouldn’t do otherwise. Even shopping has become a pleasure again: before I used to be rushed.”
“We aim to create a safe environment for all those involved, so caregivers can go about doing their errands stress-free and are able to maintain a relatively balanced routine,” says Elise Perrone, program supervisor for VHA’s Activation program. PSWs in the program stated that they learned more about their clients through different activities and exercises.
While the program shows life-changing results, funding is limited and short-term. “It’s difficult…once our clients find independence we have to tell them that their hours are done,” says Perrone who hopes more funding will be made available to fully realize the potential of the program.
For information about the Activation Program, call VHA’s direct intake line at 416 489 2500 ext. 4349