Simple Comforts Can Make a Significant Impact
Through home and community support, VHA Home HealthCare’s (VHA) staff and service providers often see clients with urgent needs that aren’t able to be met by family, charitable organizations or government programs. These essential needs can include anything from clothing and eyeglasses to incontinence products, diapers, fresh food, health care services or safety equipment. For the past 13 years, VHA’s Simple Comforts Fund has empowered staff and service providers to provide these essential products or services directly and offer a helping hand.
Tickalyn Martin, an Occupational Therapist at VHA, has accessed the fund several times in the past few years for clients with nowhere else to turn. “Recently, one of my clients needed a tub transfer bench to get in and out of the bathtub and shower area safely, but his financial situation and tax issues would have made applying for support through the government or other agencies very difficult,” said Tickalyn.
“Within weeks, to my relief as well as that of the PSWs supporting him, my client received a new bench through the Simple Comforts Fund. This fund can fill an urgent need quickly and efficiently without the complicated processes we routinely face with other funding streams. I hope I can continue to access this support for our most vulnerable clients,” she said.
Sandra Tedesco, Registered Nurse and Regional Director in the Toronto Central region, also reflected on the many occasions where professional teams have used the fund to improve client safety and quality of life especially as the pandemic has increased the need for support. “These stories often involve medically complex children and frail seniors who have struggled with bureaucratic barriers preventing them from getting the assistive devices they need,” Sandra said. “I remember also accessing this fund for a refugee who was palliative and could not receive funded home care service to address his swallowing problem. We were able to arrange for a Speech Language Pathologist visit to improve his end-of-life care.”
What makes this fund especially unique is that any items under $100 do not require management approval. “This approach gives care providers the autonomy to identify an immediate need, provide a solution and then see the direct impact—that’s so empowering for everyone involved,” Sandra said.
Tanzina Akbor, Community Support Program Coordinator has seen the value of this fund many times since joining the organization last year. “The Simple Comforts Fund provided a bassinette for a baby previously sleeping on the floor, a double stroller to allow a single mom with three young children to get to the grocery store and replaced cardboard boxes that were covering a window with proper curtains. These items may sound simple, but they truly can be life-changing,” Tanzina said.
“With limited funding for each professional team, our biggest challenge is trying to decide which need is the most urgent. And that’s a tough call to make. I see such an opportunity to expand and develop this fund, with the support of community partners or individual donors, to help us reach even more clients and families in need,” she said.
To make a donation to the Simple Comforts Fund and help people in need of more independence at home and in the community, visit www.vha.ca/donate.