In October, 2019, Cortes Island’s Augmented Home Support (AHS) program was looking at the very real possibility that they may have to shut down. They had enough funding to continue until the end of the year, after which they could not pay their part-time employees. Some of you may have read their appeal in the Cortes Community Health Association (CCHA) Newsletter and made a donation. The immediate concern is over, but it prompted me to reach out to the Augmented Home Support program’s organizer, Ron Croda.
How Augmented Home Support Started
“Augmented Home Support came into being about six years ago when the board at CCHA realized that elderly people who wanted to age in place, here on Cortes Island … couldn’t stay if they began to falter and had problems maintaining their home, transportation and that sort of thing … People on the board were concerned that people were essentially being forced to move to town and give up their homes and friendships. We felt this was not necessary in every case. We could do something about that. We organized the Augmented Home Support program to provide minimal assistance to people who only needed minimal assistance in order to remain on Cortes as long as they wanted,” he explained.
What Augmented Home Support Does
Some people ask for AHS. Others enter the program after AHS, acting on a recommendation from someone in the community, asks if they are needed.
Each client is interviewed by a Registered Nurse, who recommends services and how much time someone might need to utilize them.
AHS has four part-time workers who provide basic housekeeping services, three women and a man. They have all passed a criminal records check and signed confidentiality papers. These workers:
- give a certain amount of time for laundry;
- maybe fix a simple meal and freeze a portion of it;
- bring some firewood close to the stove so people will not have to carry it in;
- provide transportation to and from the medical clinic, or to do some shopping here on the island only.”
“We also provide some precooked meals for a co-payment of $5 per meal. We don’t do it on a long term basis, but we will do it when someone has just been discharged form the hospital and is really having some trouble getting around and taking care of themselves.”
Using Augmented Home Support
This service is free. Some people use AHS for two or three weeks; others for months.
“We don’t take on everybody. Some people have such significant problems that we can’t help them, but most of the people we serve – we can serve quite well … We do periodic reevaluations to see if someone is still in need of help and what we are doing is really helpful.”
While there are currently only 4 people using AHS, there have been 8 to 10 at times.
Funding Augmented Home Support
According to the CCHA’s October newsletter, the Augmented Home Support program needs about $20,000 a year to operate.
“We didn’t have that this year. We didn’t have grants and so on that we would normally expect to get, but we have had contributions so we will be able to run the program for most of the rest of next year without having any problems … We are hoping that Island Health will recognize the fact that we are saving them a good deal of money by taking care of people on the island rather than sending them over to town to live … Indications are that they will and we just have to work that out with them.”
People who wish to contribute to this program can make a tax deductible donation to the Cortes Medical Clinic, write “Augmented Home Support” at the bottom of the cheque.