United Way Greater Toronto is the largest investor in social services in the GTA, second only to government *. Through the support of community members and their far reaching network of community agencies – which includes ESS – they are able to support and address issues such as local poverty, hunger, homelessness, social isolation and mental health.
As a United Way Greater Toronto agency member, ESS receives crucial funding to run our Seniors’ Lunch and Adult Day Programs. These programs provide a safe and supportive space for seniors and older adults to seniors to build a social network and enjoy wellness activities together and much-needed respite for caregivers caring for someone living with a cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
When the pandemic hit, ESS had to quickly pivot the way we delivered our services and programs. For the health and safety of our clients, staff and volunteers, it was necessary to temporarily close our in-person programs. Aside from health and safety, our biggest concern was providing a continuum of care and support for our clients and caregivers at such a critical time.
With the continued financial support of the United Way Greater Toronto, we were able to creatively tackle the challenge of delivering our programs in a new way, to the best of our abilities, which could meet the specific needs of the people using our programs.
We have been given the flexibility by United Way to adapt our funding to support the program delivery changes based on community needs. Our Seniors’ Lunch Program is currently running virtually via group teleconference by ESS staff. In addition to this, staff are also making weekly check-in wellness calls with each individual client in the program. These clients also benefit from accessing our Health and Wellness virtual programs which include exercise, trivia, group discussions and other social recreational activities.
Our Adult Day Program has also moved to a virtual format which includes small group therapeutic programs via video and telephone group conferencing, along with one-on-one check-in calls. Activities include gentle exercise and stretching, trivia, travelogues, singalongs and more. Having this continued support gives a helping hand to caregivers who are now caring for a family member at home full-time.
UW has also funded the purchase of activity kits which we plan to start distributing soon to clients participating in these programs. These kits are meant to complement these remote programs and will consist of exercise equipment, social recreation activities like colouring pages and pencils, stress balls and more.
As an agency we’re helping United Way of Greater Toronto raise funds to support them to continue all of the great work they are doing in our communities and the lives they are helping change.
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