AN EXPLORATORY STUDY IN HURON, PERTH, BRUCE AND GREY COUNTIES: GAINING A SNAPSHOT OF THE ‘FOOD INSECURITY/ACCESSIBILITY’ LANDSCAPE AMONG RURAL SENIORS.
Nutrition is critical for overall health, management of chronic illnesses and maintaining independent living. According to Dr. Al Lauzon, rural seniors face more significant challenges and are at greater risk of food insecurity than their urban counterparts (Lauzon, 2018, p. 18). A range of factors impacts rural senior’s experience with food insecurity and accessibility. Notably, rural seniors experience additional barriers around the regionalization of grocery stores, a scarcity of support services such as meals on wheels or other meal delivery programs and preparation services. Some of these issues are underpinned by distance to support and health services, access to affordable, nutritious food and the lack of transportation options to get there. COVID-19 has exacerbated many of these issues and continues to deepen the gaps that impact food accessibility.
A partnership between Gateway and the University of Guelph, The Food Accessibility and Insecurity Amongst Rural Seniors project will explore regular eating patterns, food consumption, food security/insecurity experiences, accessibility to food, and diet adequacy. It will also explore possible changes between the relationship with food and the COVID-19 pandemic. The project team is currently looking for rural seniors in Huron, Perth, Bruce or Grey Counties who are 70+ years and older to participate in the project. Participants will be asked to have a 60- minute interview over the phone. The purpose of the study is to examine food concerns and to help better meet the nutrition needs of rural seniors.
For further information on the project, please visit:
If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the project, please reach out to us.
Katie Allen, Participant Recruitment Officer at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or
Casandra Bryant, Project Manager at: email@example.com
Postcard or flyer print promotional materials can be made available upon request or can be downloaded at https://www.gatewayruralhealth.ca/food-insecurity.html
Resiliency is defined as being able to get back up from adversity and hard life transitions or events. It means being able to get to a stage of working through difficult feelings and emotions to get to a stage of mental wellness.
Individual resiliency has been consistently tested and negatively impacted through the pandemic, everyone’s everyday lives drastically changed under imposed safety restrictions. For many people it is hard to maintain resiliency and accept this new “normal” largely because of continued social isolation and the impact on mental wellness.
A key component of fostering resilience in these changing times is through developing and applying coping mechanisms. Personal coping mechanisms help to reduce the stress that comes with these difficult transitions. Research indicates stress plays a strong part in both physical and mental wellbeing.
One coping mechanism shared our Connectedness Coaching educational programs is making sure you’re maintaining consistency in your life despite the changes, creating a schedule for yourself even if you’re working from home to maintain work-life balance. Building up a new routine can help things feel predictable while ensuring all the items that are important to you receive some time in your day.
Consider scheduling in work hours, healthy eating and cooking time, self-care time, and time to connect with others and perhaps participate in the next Connectedness Coaching event.
To learn more about resiliency and other ways of coping register for Connectedness Coaching (Webinar and/or our E-Learning Course) using the links below.
Registration Links for Upcoming Webinars & Registration for our E-Learning Course:
North Perth Residents (Feb 24)
Open Invite (Feb 26)
The term Cultural Complexities describes the multiplicity of cultural influences that take shape in each of us. Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health is proud to partner with The Huron Immigration Partnership to bring our community members an in-depth exploration of social justice and inclusion issues. Facilitator Michele Manocchi (Michele Manocchi Organizational Consulting) is a highly acclaimed specialist with a Ph.D. in Comparative Social Research, an Intercultural Competency Master Trainer Certificate, and a Strategy Implementation Institute Certificate. Michele is committed to supporting communities in addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion. Furthermore, having arrived in Canada from Italy in 2013, he continuously uses his own lens as an immigrant to inform and understand the systems around him and the framework that he brings to his work.
During this webinar you will have opportunity to reflect on your own cultural complexity while sharing stories and experiences with other learners. By the end of the session you will come away with an understanding of the core elements of the definition of culture, complexity, and cultural complexity; become more knowledgeable about unconscious bias, privileges, power dynamics, and systemic discrimination and their consequences. Strategies to address those issues as well as methods to identify and overcome potential challenges while communicating in culturally complex situations will be shared. These sessions will be taking place on March 19 at 9am and 6pm. For those who attend one of the sessions on March 19, a debrief follow-up session is recommended and will be held on March 26 at 6pm.
Click here to register.
With the recent pandemic there has been a greater increase in social isolation due to the lockdown and physical distancing measures currently in place. Extensive research has shown social isolation has negative impacts on one’s mental health and well-being. So, to generate more resilience and inspire dialogue to action, Gateway is now offering free educational opportunities for the community. It’s a chance to learn more about peer support, coaching conversations, system navigation and how to be an advocate within your community. The free Connectedness Coaching program addresses these topics and more!
The program is available as a six-hour self-paced e-learning course and via zoom webinar, both providing opportunities to engage with other learners. Our Gallery for Inspiration is a freely accessible website meant to inspire action among community members by getting ideas rolling of ways to invest and give back to the community during these difficult times.
We look forward to supporting your continuous learning journey.
For more information on the workshops and to register for the programs please go to our website at: www.gatewayruralhealth.ca/connectedness-coaching.
The Gateway board of directors is pleased to announce Leslie Walker has been appointed as a Research Associate.
Leslie is currently completing her Doctorate of Social and Economic Sciences at the Vienna, Austria University of Technology. Her research focuses on technology theories and policies to reduce the inequality associated with Artificial Intelligence (AI) in health care. As such her research conclusions are highly relevant to regions such as Huron County.
"I am thrilled to be joining the Gateway team and have already been inspired by the world class research and the commitment to rural health in our region. I hope to use my consulting background to strengthen the organization and amplify the amazing value the Gateway team has created thus far” said Walker.
Originally from Goderich, Leslie completed her Honours Bachelor of Commerce and Psychology at McMaster University and Master of International Business from Queen’s University, including an international MBA exchange to Guanghua School of Management in Beijing, China. She has spent the last four years working with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), working globally on large digital enablement projects with major tech companies such as Google and Microsoft. Her focus on public-sector clients has allowed her to use cloud technology and a metrics-based approach to provide better, more cost-effective services to citizens.
Gwen Devereaux Gateway CERH said, “How fortunate we are to have Leslie join us bringing such exceptional talent to our region”.
Leslie has always celebrated her Huron County roots and is particularly fond of summers in Goderich. She can be frequently seen paddle boarding on the lake, enjoying the G2G trail and visiting the Goderich Library.
Gateway is pleased to announce that it has received donations totaling $1,000 from Hensall Co-op and the Poultry Farmers of Huron County.
The cheque presentations were held at the Gateway offices in Goderich. Seen in the photo (l. to r.) are Jessica Kuiper representing both the poultry farmers and Hensall Co-op, Gwen Devereaux, president, Gateway CERH and Alex Westerhout of the Poultry Farmers organization.
Each September the poultry farmers hold a golf tournament and donate the proceeds of the event to a local charity. For many years Gateway has been a recipient of some of the funds raised. Hensall Co-op is assisting organizations in the region that have been affected by the COVID pandemic.
Gateway CERH’s president, Gwen Devereaux, expressed her appreciation and gratitude for these donations; “This ongoing support from the agriculture community is key in allowing Gateway CERH to provide research and programs supporting members in this vital sector of our economy”.
We are pleased to welcome Alis Bonsignore, PhD (candidate), R.Kin to our team at Gateway, Centre of Excellence in Rural Health. Ms. Bonsignore previously obtained her Master’s degree in the Department of Experimental Medicine from the University of British Columbia and is completing her PhD in the Department of Exercise Sciences at the University of Toronto (anticipated Winter 2021). During her PhD, she was honored with one of the highest ranked Canadian graduate scholarships from the Canadian Institution of Health Research and was successful in securing over $175,000 in funding to support her research. The focus on her research program examined the physiological changes that occur to both the blood vessels and the heart secondary to cancer therapies. Secondly, she examined how these physiological mechanisms can be used to inform clinical practice and policy to determine which cancer survivors should be referred to cardiac rehabilitation in order to reduce their risk of heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in this population.
In her new role as the Program Director, Healthy Hearts Cardiac Rehabilitation, she has a growing interest in understanding the differences in the delivery, uptake and effectiveness of cardiac rehabilitation programs in rural communities compared to more urban centres. Secondly, she is interested in designing more effective and integrated models of cardiac rehabilitation aimed at addressing the unique barriers that are experienced in rural communities. She hopes that this research will help inform policy makers, government and stakeholders on how cardiac rehabilitation can be improved to ensure equity of access and delivery of care in rural communities.
In addition to her research experience, Ms. Bonsignore has extensive experience as a clinical Kinesiologist in cardiac rehabilitation, in program design and development, and teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level. These experiences will lend success to her new role at Gateway, Centre of Excellence in Rural Health. Please join us in welcoming Alis to her new role.
Joan Cluff was our winner of our Screenagers draw.
"When I read about the Screenagers movie in the Bayfield Breeze, I immediately thought of my teenage grandchildren who spend way too much time on their devices. I decided to purchase the movie and to watch it together with my daughter and grandchildren. The kids were not keen, to say the least, but to their surprise, they actually enjoyed it and learned a lot of valuable information. I thought the movie was very well done and informative. Everyone should take the opportunity to watch this movie.
As a parent, my daughter learned the importance of developing contracts with the children so that they buy into having fair rules surrounding a healthy amount of screen time allowed per day. Determining and agreeing to these rules helps to avoid many conflicts. She also learned how important it is for teenagers (and people of all ages) to be sure to have no screentime for at least an hour before going to bed.
As a 12 year old boy, my grandson learned that too much technology kills brain cells, especially during the teenage years while the brain is still developing. He also learned that playing violent video games are more likely to cause rage and violent acts in real life. Also that technology is highly addictive and can cause depression, anxiety and stress.
As a 14 year old girl, my granddaughter recognized that social media causes poor body image, cyber bullying, stress and hurt feelings. Social media is very time consuming because the more contacts you have, the more texts and posts you have to read and respond to." - Joan
Worry about aging parents is raising stress levels for Huron County’s sandwich generation. By the end of March, Rural Response for Healthy Children’s parent support team contacted over 200 families from their client list. Parents and caregivers expressed a multitude of factors causing more stress during the pandemic. Juggling their family needs at home while also checking in on aging parents, undertaking a list of to-dos to support their aging parents to isolate, worry about the virus and the longevity of the new normal are heavy weights.
In early March, pre-pandemic, Rural Response for Healthy Children (RRHC) received approval from the federal government’s New Horizons for Seniors program to build understanding and awareness about grandparents who are raising their grandchildren in Huron County. By early April, the project funding was leveraged to provide immediate pandemic support to Huron County seniors who isolated at home to decrease their risk of exposure to coronavirus. “This was our chance to respond to what the support team was hearing from parents as a major stressor in their lives,” according to Selena Hazlitt, RRHC’s Executive Director. $5000 was immediately transferred to OneCare’s grocery delivery efforts and collaboration was struck with Huron Food Distribution Center to provide food to grandparents who are raising grandchildren as well as weekly support and provision of masks.
As a follow-up to the initial funding, in September 2020, the federal government provided RRHC with additional funds from the New Horizons for Seniors program. These funds are being used to build opportunities for seniors to stay connected during the second wave of the pandemic. It is anticipated that by providing $3000 to the ‘Lonely No More’ program, developed by Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health, some of the stress of parents/caregivers who continue to worry about their aging parents will be alleviated.
The ‘Lonely No More’ program is an excellent example of a proven model that is responds to the needs of isolated seniors. The ‘Lonely No More’ program consists of weekly teleconference calls between isolated older adults facilitated by trained community members (peer facilitators). These peer facilitators are trained in resource navigation, health coaching dialogues, elder abuse bystander prevention, peer support and the program’s outreach model.
‘Lonely No More’ was originally piloted in 2019 to combat loneliness and social isolation felt among rural older adults. During the pilot, the program demonstrated success in providing rural older adults the ability to participate in a free phone based, peer support program that addressed their need for socialization and provided rural older adults a chance to take leadership positions within their community. A number of positive impacts were seen during the pilot program such as the creation of new points of support for rural older adults, created a sense of connection, links between rural older adults through new peer relationships were improved and feelings of self-worth and giving back to the community were created. Due to the positive impacts the program’s peer support model and community interest, the program was offered again this year. With the additional sense of distance and isolation associated with the COVID-19 health pandemic it has been a welcomed service in our surrounding rural communities.
Executive Director, Rural Response for Healthy Children
Research Chair of Rural Coaching, Board Director & Project Lead, Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health