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Old School Launching Seniors Health Network

By Richard Bell 

The Old School Community Gathering Place has won a major $69,000 grant to build a peer support network for people suffering from chronic disease. The partnership grant from the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness and the Nova Scotia Health Authority will support a half-time coordinator to work with a growing number of community groups to build the network. 

“This grant will allow us to address the Eastern Shore’s most serious health problems,” said Carole Jones, Board Chair of the Old School. “Health studies show that 40% of the population on the Eastern Shore is over 50 years old, and we have the highest incidence of chronic disease within HRM. But unlike the rest of HRM, there’s no community health team (CTM) for the Eastern Shore.”  

The new peer support network stands in the long tradition of people on the Eastern Shore taking care of their own problems. “The rest of HRM has community health teams who work at the community level doing programs and offering workshops, but there are no plans for one on the shore,” said Jones. “I looked at the CTM in Cole Harbour, and I thought, ‘We can do this out here.’” 

The grant will run through March 2019, covering an area from Porters Lake to Ship Harbour and up into Middle Musquodoboit. The Old School will partner with existing seniors’ groups, and then recruit one or two people from each group who will act as peer support facilitators within those groups to promote and enhance self management skills for those suffering with a chronic disease.   

Partners with the Old School are Self Help Connection in Halifax who specialize in peer support training, Northwood who will provide on-going programs and workshops, and Eastern Shore Mental Health. Current groups include the Harbour Lites Seniors, the Alzheimer’s Support Group, a new group in Ship Harbour, and a group based at the Old School, with additional groups to come. The first facilitator training is planned for February 23, 2017.  

“The grant funds a halftime coordinator position at the Old School,” said Jones. “We’ve hired Leslie Savoie, who will coordinate the groups, arrange health workshops and programs and develop a data base of local health information and resources.  With our funding from United Way and this grant, Leslie will be our first full-time employee.”  

“Going to see your doctor once every six months for 10 minutes isn’t enough to keep you healthy and motivated” said Jones. “The peer support network will encourage people to stay on track through regular monitoring and access to resources.”   

 For more info or to join a group, call the Old School, 902-889-2735 

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