“I never write someone else’s story,” says Melissa Wysocki, a community connector with the Hamilton Seniors Isolation Impact Plan. “I sit down and have conversations with them, find their goals and guide them.”
Melissa works for Wesley Urban Ministries, one of seven organizations collaborating to reduce and prevent isolation with seniors in the Greater Hamilton Area.
She and her fellow connectors are referred clients from various sources, including healthcare providers, neighbours, and even banks. From there, they assess needs and desires, create a personalized plan for services and activities, and provide ongoing support to make sure connections are maintained. The goal of the project is to create a model that will guide the identification and engagement of isolated seniors in communities across Canada.
“I love when I can help somebody go from being lonely or isolated to now being involved with a program and calling me up asking for more to do, saying I’m having a great time,” explains Melissa.
The RTOERO Foundation supported the program with a grant for the Social Participation Fund. Melissa says the fund is critical to being able to implement the plan they develop with their clients. The activities and supports lead to lasting change.
“Without the participation fund, many of the clients wouldn’t be able to access programs or services in the community— cost is a barrier,” she says. “My fear is the fund may not always be there for them. I want it to continue.”
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