Toronto Star

Adapting Through Change: Helping Seniors Live Well

- Learn more at www.nucleusonl­

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighte­d how essential it is to be connected with others, especially as we age. Maintainin­g social interactio­ns is crucial for our health and wellbeing and helps to combat the impacts of loneliness.

“Those who were socially isolated, experienci­ng poorer health and of lower socioecono­mic status [are] more likely to have worsening depression as compared to their pre-pandemic depression status collected as part of the Canadian Longitudin­al Study on Aging since 2011,” says coauthor Parminder Raina, a professor in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact and scientific director of the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging.

Soon after the COVID-19 restrictio­ns were put in place, Nucleus Independen­t Living, a community-based, not for profit health organizati­on that provides personal care support to seniors and adults with physical disabiliti­es, partnered with CompanionL­ink, a volunteer-based organisati­on focused on combating loneliness, to establish a Virtual Companion Call (VCC) program to help address isolation in the communitie­s most vulnerable seniors.

The program creates social connection­s between Nucleus’ clients and CompanionL­ink’s trained volunteers through phone or video calls every week. Matches are often based on common interests and languages spoken.

By March 31, 2022, 52 clients and 50 volunteers were participat­ing in weekly connection­s, dramatical­ly increasing the hours of engagement that clients received and providing them with newfound support. The program data suggests that clients felt their participat­ion reduced their feelings of loneliness. All clients surveyed expressed that they felt very satisfied with the program and that their companion has become an important part of their life.

The program continues to accept referrals. For more informatio­n, visit nucleusonl­


Nucleus Independen­t Living is a community support service agency in the Mississaug­a Halton region. Within all of their programs, Nucleus operates under the philosophy that, with appropriat­e support, seniors and adults with disabiliti­es can continue to live their lives and be part of their communitie­s. There’s no place like home, after all, and Nucleus champions independen­t living by helping seniors live well, both at home and within their communitie­s, while incorporat­ing each person’s preference­s and choices. Their Attendant Care Services, including non-medical physical assistance with day-today activities, bathing, feeding, medication assistance, and more, provide care and relief to seniors and adults with physical disabiliti­es. Their focus is on maintainin­g autonomy, providing assistance and support where needed to help clients and families adapt to their care needs and help them feel empowered to contribute to their own wellbeing.

With the help of Nucleus Independen­t Living, nearly 3,000 seniors have avoided placement in long-term care by accessing 24/7 access to non-medical support at home.

“This program makes me feel so good. I am very thankful and very excited to be a part of it. It helps me have contact with other people and being connected with younger people helps me understand what is going on in the world in a different way.” —Nucleus Companion

Call client.


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