Funding confirmed for seniors’ awareness project

ST. PETER’S: With funding commitments now in hand from the provincial and municipal governments, three local organizations are launching a project designed to address seniors’ health issues in Richmond County and give area seniors a creative means of sharing their experience.

“Mind, Body, Spirit,” currently overseen by the Dr. W.B. Kingston Memorial Health Centre and conceived with the assistance of the Seniors Take Action Coalition (STAC) and the Richmond County Literacy Network (RCLN), has received a funding commitment of $4,000 from Richmond Municipal Council on top of a contribution of $120,000 from Nova Scotia’s Department of Health and Wellness (DHW) that will be directed to the project through the municipality.

According to Dr. Dorothy Barnard, chair of the board for the Dr. W.B. Kingston Memorial Health Centre, the year-long project is designed to use multiple means to address such issues as isolation and depression that are commonly felt by Richmond County seniors but not frequently discussed in public forums.

“The reason it’s called ‘Mind, Body, Spirit’ is because all three of them go together to make you feel well and healthy,” Dr. Barnard told The Reporter.

“So there are things like yoga that will be incorporated, there may be dance, there may be art, there may be other things like that… There will be a component where local people get educated about music therapy, not [by] a therapist but as somebody who can use music to interact with people who have a mental illness or are socially isolated or who just enjoy music.”

Under the guidance of program coordinator Dawn Ostrem, STAC representative Celeste Gotell and the Kingston Health Centre’s safety program coordinator Michelle MacPhee, the program is designed to break down barriers between seniors and those seeking to enhance their daily living, Dr. Barnard noted.

“There will also be a lot of education for lay people as well as health professionals, just about ordinary, everyday mental health of seniors,” she explained.

“One of the things I surely appreciate is how common depression is in the elderly and how it’s not something that people readily admit to, as well as social isolation.”

With the bulk of the project to be rolled out in October to tie in with specific observances surrounding mental health and seniors’ issues in general, Dr. Barnard is hoping “Mind, Body, Spirit” will also bolster the numbers of volunteers for senior-related services in Richmond County.

‘There are a lot of retired people in Cape Breton, yet there’s just a smaller group that actually volunteers, and most of the time it’s because they haven’t been offered to be a volunteer for something they’re interested in or think they can do, or know how to contribute to,” Dr. Barnard said.

“So we’re also trying to create a larger pool of supported volunteers, so you’re not isolated and all of the safety factors that need to be in place are in place.”

For more information on “Mind, Body, Spirit,” visit the Kingston Health Centre Web site: www.drkingstoncommunityhealthcentre.com, or call the centre’s administrator, Sherry Sampson, at: (902) 587-2800.