By Meg Olson
The Point Roberts Circle of Care (PRCC) has plugged into a web of regional agencies that is taking the group one step closer to providing home care and other services to seniors on the Point.
On May 27, the group’s founders Annelle Norman, Dina Boykiw and Chris Cameron met with representatives from the Northwest Regional Council (NRC), the Whatcom Council on Aging (WCOA), the Chuckanut Health Foundation and Bellingham at Home.
“The first order of business was to call attention to the 2010 census, which showed that a majority of Point Roberts residents are 50 years of age and over,” Norman said. “The results of the survey conducted in the community demonstrate that senior in-home care is a concern for many residents and is likely to become a serious issue with a shortage of qualified providers.” Washington state law requires that individuals who are paid to provide in-home care complete a 70-hour course and pass a certification examination.
Norman said they learned a number of resources are available to help them provide services for seniors in the community.
“We have their attention, their collaboration and their offer of enthusiastic support,” she said. Currently senior services in Point Roberts are limited to the senior center, supported by the local and county parks departments, and the senior lunch supported by WCOA. “There’s so much more they could offer if they were asked,” Norman said.
The next step for PRCC will be to “connect with an existing organization that would provide a home, an existing non-profit that would take us under their wing to give PRCC a temporary 501(c)(3) status, providing structure, organization, guidance and enabling the fledgling organization to begin fund-raising,” Norman said. “Once that home is solidified then the group could apply to Chuckanut Health Foundation for grants.”
WCOA has indicated a willingness to take on that role and both parties are reviewing a memorandum of understanding with the expectation it will be approved.
PRCC is now looking to expand their steering committee from three to seven and putting together a timeline of goals that would allow them to begin providing services in September.
A high priority would be to get enough people interested in receiving training to become in-home care providers.
“If we could get a dedicated group to commit to two weeks we could potentially get somebody here to provide the training, and that would be amazing,” Norman said.
Trained providers would be paid to provide services in the home similar to a nurse’s aide in a nursing home: bathing, meals, medication management, basic health monitoring, changing bandages and more.
The volunteer component of the program would provide more “neighborly” help: walking the dog, picking up groceries or driving to an appointment. Norman said the group is actively recruiting volunteers and encouraged anyone interested in volunteering or taking the training to contact her at email@example.com.
PRCC is also coordinating with the local fire department, which has been expanding community services to help medically fragile and elderly people.
“We’ve started to follow up with patients that we’ve transported or responded to see if we can help them with their medical needs, making sure they can successfully return to or remain in their homes,” said fire chief Christopher Carleton.
In May the fire district joined the Northwest Regional Council (NWRC)’s falls prevention program, which helps connect victims of a fall or other accident or illness with social services.
“We may get called for a fall and arrive at someone’s home to find their living environment is not conducive,” Carleton said. Through the program the first responders can fill out a form, with the patient’s permission, that identifies their unmet needs, such as lack of transportation, safety issues, living conditions, food availability and inadequate support.
The form is faxed to the NWRC, which connects the individual with social services. “They can reach out to them and get them involved with the county and regional agencies that will help them,” he said. Once it’s established, PRCC would be one of those resources.