Gateway CERH is offering a 2 part series of online screenings of insightful documentaries (Screenagers and The Next Chapter) that take a personal approach to exploring the struggles around screen time and the online world within the family context. We are planning on offering these documentaries in an on-demand fashion and engaging in online community conversations around this topic.
We will be offering an online Question and Answer Session on topics and issues raised in Screenagers on October 1st (at 7 pm) and on October 22nd (at 7 pm) we will be chatting about concerns brought up in The Next Chapter. These Question and Answer Sessions will be moderated by experts in the field.
Details on how to purchase your tickets will be posted shortly. Stay tuned!
On Thursday August 13th 2020 Rotary Club President Mike Strickland presented a cheque for $5430 to Nancy Simpson, Secretary of the board of directors of Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health (Gateway CERH) to support the Lonely No More Program.
The Lonely No More (LNM) program consists of weekly teleconference calls between isolated seniors, facilitated by trained community members (volunteers). This program creates three components of support: peer support, health coaching and system navigation. The LNM program was originally piloted in 2019 and based on its success it was re-launched earlier this year. Due to the program’s positive impact and new partnership developments (e.g., MacKay Seniors Centre / Senior Centers Without Walls, Rotary Club of Goderich etc.), Lonely No More was able to offer weekly chats for the past 7 months (January to July 2020). The program is expected to start up again this fall.
Gateway CERH would like to thank Rotary Club of Goderich, the IODE, MacKay Seniors Centre / Senior Centers Without Walls and the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy for supporting this rural based initiative this past year as well as our volunteers and leadership team. Gateway CERH looks forward to serving our rural seniors again this fall.
Today is Meghan Wild-Deny’s last day with us as one of our summer students. We greatly appreciated all the work and effort she has put into our Farmers’ Mental Health Project. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors! Thank you Meghan!
Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH), surveyed essential healthcare workers in Huron County, who continued to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, to report on how the pandemic has affected their health and well-being. The survey was intended to be a snapshot during the peak period of COVID activity in our rural area. Data for this initiative was collected through an online questionnaire, which resulted in 160 participants.
Gateway CERH secured funding from Perth-Huron United Way for this project. As Nancy Simpson, Project Lead, said: “… collectively and in partnership, we are making a difference in our community.” The results from the survey provided insight into the emerging needs of our local rural healthcare workers, the types of support systems currently available, as well as identifying supports needed to serve healthcare workers in our local communities.
Commenting on the partnership between Gateway and Perth-Huron United Way, Simpson said: “[we] are two local organizations well aligned in [our] mission and support of residents. The United Way’s objective is to maximize the positive impact on communities through evidence-based priorities and actions.”
The questionnaire provided essential healthcare workers with the opportunity to report on how the pandemic is affecting their health and well-being both personally and professionally. It was sent out to local community psychiatric services, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, family health teams, hospitals, pharmacies, hospices, as well as emergency medical services.
Commenting on the project, Simpson said: “with the funding provided by the COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund, Gateway reacted quickly to develop and circulate a survey to rural healthcare workers to assess the impact of the pandemic on the well-being of these essential workers.”
Taylor Pratt, Summer Student Research Assistant, made a public call to individuals working in the Huron County Health Care sector, asking them to participate in the questionnaire. To circulate the survey, Pratt turned to social media, phone calls, and email - directly reaching 74 healthcare workers. Commenting on the participant response rate, Pratt said: “we are amazed by the number of responses we received. We appreciate the honesty and willingness of the healthcare workers’ responses.”
Dr. Al Lauzon, Chair of Rural Change and Development and Casandra Bryant, Research Associate have been analyzing the data and developing a report. Commenting on the data, Bryant said: “just over three-quarters of respondents feel that workplace stressors have impacted their life outside of work highlighting mental and physical health concerns, work-life balance challenges, and concerns directly related to the family.”
The survey results suggest that over half (65%) of respondents indicated that they have experienced personal stressors at work since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of these respondents, 96% believe the personal stressors they are experiencing are a direct result of the pandemic. For those who responded that they were already experiencing personal stressors prior to the pandemic, 95% reported the pandemic has exacerbated the stress they are experiencing.
Dr. Wayne Caldwell is a Professor in Rural Planning and Development and alongside his PhD student Rana Telfah, they are investigating the economic impacts and influence of COVID-19 on Syrian Refugee settlement and Integration into rural Canada.
Dr. Caldwell commented on Gateway being the perfect partner for their project, “Given Gateway’s broad interest in health and this vulnerable population it was a natural partnership to work with Gateway to make this happen. … Certainly, Gateway is focused on rural and that is what Rana’s research is focused on.”
Telfah was raised in the country of Jordan where she completed her Master’s degree at the University of Jordan. In 2012, she moved to Guelph with her one son at the time. She applied to the University of Guelph and got accepted for the Rural Planning program.
“I did program evaluation and by the end of the program, I grew some interest in doing research about the Syrian families who recently moved to Ontario,” said Telfah.
After growing this interest, she started her PhD under Professor Caldwell four years ago in 2016. Her PhD research is about applying gender analysis to Syrian families in Southwestern Ontario.
“When I came to Canada, I stayed in Guelph. I realized that Guelph had so many things that are missing for Immigrants, especially women. From my personal experience, I see how hard it is for all women coming from a different country to come in and integrate easily. So, when Syrian families come to Ontario and live in even smaller rural communities, I know they feel the same pressure I felt. Speaking [to them] about the challenges they face and highlighting the voices of the Syrian families is important,” said Telfah.
Telfah started interviews with Syrian families in January, however, with the COVID-19 pandemic her focus shifted. “When I started to do phone interviews due to COVID, families started to speak about COVID-19 and the impact it had on their babies’ lives, how they are losing their jobs and how they are being more isolated,” Telfah said. She was able to re-evaluate her research design to add the impact COVID-19 is having on Syrian families.
“This was Rana’s research before COVID came along. With the opportunity through Mitacs (a non-profit national research organization), which encourages people to look at COVID-19 and the impact it has on rural families. It was a great opportunity to dove tail the work Rana was already looking at,” said Dr. Caldwell.
“We have been working on a number of projects related to COVID- 19,” said Gwen Devereaux, president of the board of directors of Gateway. “This is such important work in a population that may not have had a voice in rural without this effort by our Guelph University partner.”
Today the students presented their projects to over 20 individuals including Gateway Board Members, Research Chairs as well as a number of community members. Taylor Pratt presented the work she contributed to Gateway’s COVID-19 Healthcare Sector Survey. The survey found family challenges and concerns, shopping challenges and mental and physical health concerns as the top stressors for the healthcare sector respondents. It was found that 65% of respondents experienced personal stressors at work since the emergence of COVID-19. Despite this statistic, it was encouraging to see that activities and exercise were being utilized by respondents to help manage their stressors.
Joel Hordijk presented next and described his contribution to Gateway’s business plan, marketing and promotional initiatives. He also explored the potential of promoting rural health through the creation of a Rural Health Awareness Day. It was exciting to see such new and innovative ideas being contributed towards Gateway’s mission to improve rural health.
Meghan Wild-Denys spoke on her role in the development of Gateway’s Farmers’ Mental Health Project. Meghan was able to make significant contributions to the “Farm Safety” arm of the project and was able to research the impacts COVID-19 on farmers in our area through conducting a review of the literature available.
Lastly, Jenna Schade presented on her contributions to Al Lauzon’s Food Insecurity Project. This project aims to explore food insecurity among rural seniors. Jenna was able to conduct multiple literature reviews on food deserts, food swamps, local rural food access and farmer’s markets and alternative agriculture.
We would like to thank our students for their wonderful contributions this summer and we wish them all the best in their future endeavors.
Gateway is excited to have a new research associate join their team, Casandra Bryant.
Alongside the Gateway team, Bryant is advising on a research project investigating the impact of COVID-19 on the rural healthcare system with a focus on the well-being of healthcare workers and others employed in a healthcare setting. This research aims to clearly identify the impact of COVID-19 on rural healthcare workers and inform future support initiatives and resources for the immediate future and post-pandemic. This project is funded by Huron-Perth United Way.
The recent appointment of Jane Philpott as a special advisor to Ontario’s Minister of Health with a mandate to design and implement a health-data platform aimed to assist researchers and health-system workers, indicates the importance of gathering pandemic data. While it is unknown how and where this data will be gathered, most studies and reports have been urban-centric. Bryant is excited to be a part of a research initiative that solely focuses on the rural healthcare system in Huron county. She is advising on the research design and data analysis stages of the project.
“I am a first year PhD student in Rural Studies at the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph. My MSc in Capacity Development and Extension focused on rural connectivity, and communication media with rural radio broadcasters, extension workers and community development officers in Latin America, and Africa. I completed a consultancy at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome, Italy and conducted additional communication-focused research in rural Central America before returning to Canada.” said Bryant.
In addition to her academic work, Bryant brings 15 plus years of professional experience as a non-profit organization consultant, working with a number of national health-related organizations such as, Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, MS Society of Canada, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Renascent Foundation and Rethink Breast Cancer. One of her recent roles as a Strategy Lead in Program Development helped to create a leadership-coaching program for nurses and healthcare executives centred on creating leadership cultures that embrace relationship-centred care and personal development.
Her doctorate work will focus on rural women social entrepreneurs at both the community and policy level. She feels the role of social enterprise has been and will continue to play a role in addressing social issues such as gender inequality, mental and physical health, healthcare access, economic empowerment and community resilience. Bryant’s research will specifically explore female social entrepreneurs with the hope to learn more about the opportunities and challenges they face as women.
“We continue to attract and strengthen Gateway. We are delighted to welcome Casandra to our team,” said Gwen Devereaux, president, Board of Directors.