Vera Stryjak (left) of Seattle and her mom Helen Serafimova of Abbotsford have benefited from the Archway Social Prescribing Program for Seniors. (Submitted photos)

Vera Stryjak (left) of Seattle and her mom Helen Serafimova of Abbotsford have benefited from the Archway Social Prescribing Program for Seniors. (Submitted photos)

Abbotsford program links vulnerable seniors to health supports

Archway Social Prescribing Program helps with community connections and more

A program of Archway Community Services is helping seniors in Abbotsford delay frailty, practise self-care management and reduce their loss of independence.

The Archway Social Prescribing Program for Seniors provides non-clinical services to people who could use help connecting to their community or learning how to take care of their health and well-being.

Seniors’ Community Connector Jada Onigbinde said seniors are especially susceptible to isolation and injuries from trips and falls if they have lost a spouse, live on a low income or are inactive.

“In talking to doctors, we found out that some seniors hadn’t been to appointments for six months because they were scared to leave their homes due to being frail,” she said.

“They also didn’t want to use public transportation at the risk of exposure to COVID. So knowing that we could arrange transportation for them at a minimal cost was such a relief.”

The Social Prescribing Program has been able to support seniors who can’t cook or afford to meet their nutritional needs by working with Archway’s Meals on Wheels program. They also work in conjunction with the Archway Better at Home program, by utilizing housekeeping, grocery shopping and medical transportation services.

Vera Stryjak and her 92-year-old mother Helen Serafimova are some of the clients who have benefited from the program’s support. Stryjak lives in Seattle and regularly crossed the border before the pandemic to assist her mother with a variety of essential tasks as she advanced in age.

RELATED: Nine Abbotsford projects receive $345K in civil forfeiture grants

“I tried to get across the border but was denied entry. Emotionally drained and worried, I did a Google search for ‘help’, and came across the Archway homepage,” Stryjak said.

“I called and I explained my problems and, after a brief hold, an angel answered in the form of Jada. With her knowledge of the resources available, combined with her kindness and a passion to help, we were able to move mountains. We arranged a Zoom meeting with my mother’s orthopedic surgeon in Vancouver.”

Onigbinde also arranged all transportation needs, including for the X-rays before the meeting, plus transportation to Vancouver for injections for her mom’s arthritic knee to allow her to walk independently. Later, transportation for a COVID vaccine appointment was coordinated.

Onigbinde said the program has been well-received. They’ve been able to reach seniors through talking to hospitals, the seniors’ clinic, places of faith, multi-cultural food suppliers, and retirement homes along with family doctors.

She noted that many seniors and their families seem to be surprised that such a program exists, and they are amazed that someone cares and wants to help them for free.

The program is run by the Senior Services department of Archway Community Services and funded by Fraser Health and the United Way of the Lower Mainland.

In addition to referrals to other Archway programs or community resources, the Archway Social Prescribing Program offers weekly check-in calls. This offers isolated seniors a chance for a conversation and serves to monitor emerging issues.

Those interested in accessing the program can ask their family doctor for a referral or call the Social Prescribing Program for Seniors directly at 604-743-0393. Visit Archway.ca/SPP for more info.

Seniors