COVID isolation kits created for vulnerable seniors, disabled

By: Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, Source: The North Bay Nugget
Vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities in East Parry Sound are getting a pandemic isolation kit thanks to East Parry Sound Community Support Services.
Program co-ordinator Leslie Price says the kits are to help people in rural communities who may be isolated and often don’t see many people.
Suddenly they’ve run out of something, but can’t leave their home to replace what they need.
That’s where the kits, which contain more than 20 essential and beneficial items, come in.
“The kits have non-perishable food items like a can of soup, a granola bar and protein bar. There’s a bottle of Ensure supplement, as well as a couple of bottles of water, a fruit cup and container of juice,” Price says.
In addition, each package contains a first-aid kit, flash light, emergency whistle, toilet paper, Kleenex and hand soap.
Blankets, mitts, heavy socks and toques were added because we’re still in the middle of winter, Price adds.
Each kit also has activity-related items such as a deck of playing cards, a note pad, a word search book and suggestions for home exercises.
The money for the kits came from the province through the Parry Sound District Social Services Administration Board.
“They didn’t say how we had to use it specifically, and we came up with the idea for the pandemic isolation kits,” Price says.
In all, the money allowed East Parry Sound CSS to buy items for 200 kits. Price says it was able to identify vulnerable residents from among clients who use the agency’s Meals on Wheels program and transportation service. More were identified by contacting municipalities in East Parry Sound, as well as churches, food banks and fire departments.
“These are all small communities and the people we reached out to know who (the vulnerable) people are,” Price says.
The kits are now being distributed by the various municipalities.
To maintain confidentiality, Price says CSS doesn’t need to know who the recipients are. But for statistical purposes, it wants to know the number of kits each community hands out, the number of recipients who are older and younger than 65 and the number of residents with disabilities.
One of the goals is to distribute the kits as evenly as possible throughout the East Parry Sound region.
When CSS began contacting the municipalities and told them about the isolation kits, Price says many told her it was a great idea.
Price says CSS wants to hear back from kit recipients to hear what they liked best in the package, what items weren’t necessary, what things they liked best and if overall the kits were helpful.
To that end, each kit contains a letter from CSS asking for feedback and how to contact the organization.
Meanwhile, Price says CSS is now preparing a second set of kits.
In this instance, the organization has received permission from the North East Local Health Integration Network to spend surplus money originally earmarked for a regular seniors’ luncheon on anything COVID-related.
The luncheons took a hit when the latest round of lockdowns arrived in December, but it meant CSS now has unspent money.
Price says there’s enough money to create an additional 300 kits.
She says the contents will contain some of the same items that were in the first 200 kits, but new goods include a digital thermometer.
The methodology to distribute the kits will be the same, with CSS again asking municipalities to help it identify vulnerable people who can use the packages.
One stipulation is the next wave of recipients can’t be anyone who’s received a kit in the first round.
One group of vulnerable people CSS would like to see get some of the next kits are people with Alzheimer’s, Price says. To achieve this, CSS has partnered with the Alzheimer Society of Sudbury-Manitoulin North Bay and Districts.
Price says the society recently created activity kits for adults that include things such as word searches and puzzles and gave them to CSS for its older adults.
Price says the partnership with the society will see it create more activity kits, with CSS absorbing part of the cost.
Price believes the 300 kits should be ready for distribution by the end of March.