Navigating the Health Care System: Final Report

The “Navigating the Health Care System for Senior” series of events was successfully completed with funding from the Government of Ontario under the Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat “Seniors Community Grant Program.” Following are parts of the final report submitted to the granting agency by the Chair of the Lanark County Chapter.

This program was one of the most rewarding volunteer efforts I have been involved with. Although the attendance at some of the events was below expectations, the feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive with many requests to continue to hold such events.

The grant was obtained for the preparation and production of three events in three different communities in rural Lanark County. The program was titled “Navigating the Health Care System for seniors, their families and caregivers.” This program was designed in the belief that a significant obstacle to better individual health care is the difficulty in navigating the health care system. The objective was to find experts to talk on the following topics:
o How can I stay in my home? (in-home support services, transportation services)
o What are my residential options? (retirement residences, assisted living, long-term care)
o How do I access medical support services? (assistive devices, physiotherapy, chemotherapy, dialysis)
o What are my end-of-life options? (palliative care, hospice)

We originally planned on 3 speakers at each event with 50 attendees drawn both by the subject and by serving a meal (rural seniors are believed to be attracted by a meal in a community environment).

Our publicity to attract seniors included:
o 100 posters printed and distributed around the county
o Three press releases
o Emails to the CARP Lanark County membership
o Posting on the CARP Lanark County Chapter website
o Radio interview on LAKE 88

The following three events were held:
o Almonte, Oct. 20, 38 registered, 26 attending, 6 speakers
o Smiths Falls, Nov. 3, 27 registered, 21 attending, 5 speakers
o Perth, Nov. 17, 67 registered, 65 attending, 6 speakers.

Registration was required so that we had a count for the caterer. At the first event we learned that a significant number of registered do not show up. The reason we had almost the number that registered at the Perth event was due to 8 unregistered people attending.

SURVEYS

Attendees were asked to fill out a survey. The participation rate in the survey was about 70%. Answers to the question “Please rate the event overall” were overwhelmingly positive as shown below.

Almonte-1 Not worth time, 4 Glad I came, 12 Will recommend, 1 N/A
Smiths Falls-6 Glad I came, 11 Will recommend
Perth-13.5 Glad I came, 30.5 Will recommend, 1 N/A

Of the many comments received, one that is memorable is, “I’m 70 and I had no idea these organizations existed and the size of the issues.”

The meal was rated as satisfactory by 100% or those answering the question.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The support from the Government of Ontario for this project was acknowledged in every press release, on the website posting, on the poster for the events and at every event.

Although this grant did not require reporting of in-kind contributions it would be remiss to not acknowledge the great contributions that made this program a success. A conservative estimate of time donated to this event was 214 hours. The primary contributor was Jeff Mills, Coordinator Community Development, Mills Community Support, 67 Industrial Drive, Almonte, ON K0A 1A0. As a member of the CARP Lanark County board of directors, Jeff determined the need for this type of event two years ago. He was the architect of the event, speaker organizer, and MC. We thank Mills Community Support for allowing Jeff to spend the time necessary to make this program a success.

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