VON supports longer home stays for seniors

Programs help several thousand stay out of hospitals

Darrell Cole webcomments@ngnews.ca
Published on March 10, 2014
Fonda Hutchinson, the Cumberland VON volunteer services co-ordinator, talks to members of the Amherst Rotary about some of the programs offered by the local office.
Darrell Cole - Cumberlandnewsnow.com

The VON touches the lives of several thousand Cumberland County residents each month, helping them remain in their homes longer.

AMHERST – Several thousand Cumberland County residents are able to remain in their homes longer thanks to the programs and services of the Cumberland chapter of the Victorian Order of Nurses.

Speaking to the Amherst Rotary Club on Monday, VON Cumberland volunteer services co-ordinator Fonda Hutchinson said the organization provides a lot of in-home services including nursing and home support, along with a number of volunteer-driven programs.

“Our goal is to keep people in their homes for as long as possible,” Hutchinson said. “We have a number of nursing services as well as the home support program that sees workers go into the home to help clients with tasks they otherwise wouldn’t be able to complete.”

Huthinson said VON nurses complete as many as 4,500 hours of work in clients homes across the county, while home support workers do about 9.000 hours. She said there are about 150 VON staff working in Cumberland County.

There are also a number of support programs that rely on donations and volunteers to continue. These programs receive funding support from the United Way of Cumberland.

One of the biggest of these is the Meals on Wheels program that delivers some 300 hot meals a month to recipients around the Amherst area. She said this program relies heavily on volunteers, who go to the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre and pick up the meals to be delivered to homes around the community.

Another popular program is the Adult Day Program that, on average, has approximately 80 participants each month at two locations, two days a week.

The adult program includes socialization for seniors, many of whom are living alone or only see their caregiver and no one else because of their health situation. Sessions include gentle exercises, crafts, a healthy lunch and entertainment.

Foot care clinics see trained foot care nurses do assessments of feet and toenails, while the safety check-in program sees volunteers call a list of clients to make sure they are OK.

Hutchinson said this program is a health and safety check and is great for seniors with health conditions or who are prone to falls.

Another program is called SMART, or Seniors Maintaining Creative Roles Together that includes gentle exercise that aims to reduce the risk of falls, while maintaining balance and improving mobility.

The Vial of Life program has been ongoing for several years. Through the program, seniors can place their prescription information in a vial that’s placed in the fridge so paramedics or emergency officials can find it easily when responding to a call.


Twitter: @ADNdarrell