The Windsor Essex Compassion Care Community: 2020 Highlights and Results
Authors: Michelle Howard, Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University; Kathryn Pfaff, Faculty of Nursing, University of Windsor; Deborah Sattler, Lead, Windsor Essex Compassion Care Community; With the support of the HPCO Community Research Community of Practice
The Windsor Essex Compassion Care Community (www.weccc.ca/) is a social movement. Its goal is to measurably and cost-effectively improve health, wellness and quality of life amongst populations; to mobilize community assets to address social isolation; and to reduce inequities amongst traditionally underserved groups. WECCC also provides a platform for cross community collaboration, sharing of talent and resources, and collective impact.
With the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Erie St Clair LHIN, between 2018 to 2020, WECCC improved social connections and quality of life of 2,514 individuals. Catalyzing Community Connection is a volunteer-based care planning program that provides 1:1 support for quality-of-life self-assessment, person-directed goals and community navigation and connections (Target: people who are highly isolated, traditionally underserved, or are experiencing multiple health or quality of life challenges, including functional limitations, frailty and end of life). Importance of Being Connected is a public education program that educates people on social risks to health, and how to prevent/ reduce harm through setting goals and helping others (Target: healthy aging; people at risk of isolation due to life transitions or new health challenges). These programs work together to increase awareness, skills and prosocial behaviour of individuals and groups, and assist people who are isolated to set goals and reduce unmet needs by connecting with meaningful community activities, relationships and services.
RESULTS AND EVALUATION HIGHLIGHTS (2018 TO 2020)
Participants and community partners are highly satisfied with their experiences with WECCC, there is broad support for continuation, and both programs show evidence of effectiveness and impact. Even taking in account the widespread isolation exacerbated by the COVID pandemic over the last year, on average 8 out of 10 participants in the Catalyzing Community Connection program reported that their participation in the program improved their lives, helped them to receive more support in the community, and increased their ability to deal with challenges.
Other results included reduced loneliness, improved symptom management, better mental health, and appropriate use of health system resources. Community partners felt people in the community are better served by families, neighbours and community.
“The Importance of Being Connected” program was found to increase awareness of the negative effects of social isolation and promote intentional and persistent reaching out to other community members in relational, emotional and practical support.
A research group involving the universities of Windsor, McMaster, Western, Toronto, Carelton, and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute were involved in program evaluation. A series of academic papers and presentations are in development based on this research.
Published by: The Windsor Essex Compassion Care Community
Publication Date: 2021