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Helping Hands re-establishes 24-hour PSW care at Coldwater seniors' home

Andrew Philips

By Andrew Philips, Special to Postmedia Network

ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES
Helping Hands CEO Rob Soczka, left, joins Coldwater Seniors Apartment resident Ella Reid and Coldwater Lions Club president Laird Vanni for a barbecue Wednesday. The Lions club donated six new, wheelchair-accessible picnic tables to the seniors’ building.

ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES Helping Hands CEO Rob Soczka, left, joins Coldwater Seniors Apartment resident Ella Reid and Coldwater Lions Club president Laird Vanni for a barbecue Wednesday. The Lions club donated six new, wheelchair-accessible picnic tables to the seniors’ building.

Chuck Alexander can't hide his enthusiasm over an Orillia non-profit's decision to re-establish 24-hour staffing at his Coldwater seniors' residence.

"It's awesome," said Alexander, board treasurer of Coldwater Seniors' Apartment Inc., which offers seniors supportive housing.

Alexander, who pointed out residents have enjoyed a positive relationship with Helping Hands for its nearly two decades in Coldwater, said the agency's move to go back to a 24-hour personal support worker (PSW) model is more than welcome.

"It's a big thing for us and reassures our residents that care is so close at hand," he said. "Their staff certainly know all of the people here. It's all on a first-name basis. It's that close a relationship."

Helping Hands, which also provides satellite support services to two Orillia seniors' homes as well, offers transportation services, housekeeping and assistance with meals along with personal care or relief for a caregiver and friendly visiting programs.

Helping Hands CEO Rob Soczka said the agency was able to re-establish a 24-hour presence by continuing to try to trim administrative costs where possible.

As an example, he cited Helping Hands' decision to move its head office from Memorial Avenue to a smaller spot on West Street South earlier this year "to save some money."

Client-care co-ordinator Vickie Scott said Helping Hands has a team of 52 PSWs employed in the agency's large Simcoe County-Muskoka catchment area.

"We have four PSW positions dedicated to (the Coldwater) site," she said, noting about six or seven staff members fill out the four shifts.

The Coldwater home features two transitional beds that can help residents who may be returning from hospital and require extra care before moving back to their apartments.

Soczka said the beds help alleviate strain on the health-care system by freeing up hospital beds.

"It's not just the cost of labour," he said, adding Helping Hands provides a sustainable model that serves the community well. "The type of services we provide here are significantly cheaper than in a hospital."

Coldwater Seniors' Apartment residents enjoyed a barbecue Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the added nighttime shift along with the donation of six wheelchair-accessible picnic tables by the Coldwater Lions Club.

"We felt there was a need," club president Laird Vanni said. "It will also help when families come together and be able to meet outside." 



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