Lisa Tower blog

Hi everyone! My name is Lisa Tower and I am currently a 4th year B.A. English undergrad at Ryerson University, and ConnectCare´s summer student. Some of my favourite hobbies include reading books , writing , travelling , shooting film photos , and drinking a good cup of tea .

Thanks for stopping by this blog. Hopefully you will discover some useful information here! So please grab a cup of tea, get comfortable, and enjoy!

We are lucky to have a summer student working for us at ConnectCare. One of her projects is creating a weekly blog featuring some of our community partners.

The Multi-Service Centre: Celebrating a Caring Community!


The other day I had the opportunity to speak with Michelle, Home Support Coordinator for the Multi-Service Centre in Tillsonburg. She was so kind, and patiently answered my endless questions! You can really tell when someone is passionate about their job, and Michelle is very passionate! After speaking with her about the Centre, I now understand how crucial it is for seniors to be involved with community organizations! Although some seniors are independent, and living at home, they may still need help with a few things around the house, going grocery shopping, filling prescriptions, and much more! These are just some of the activities the Centre helps people with!

My own grandparents actually live in Japan. My grandma, or obachan in Japanese, just turned 80 years old and lives independently in her own home. Even though she is a fiercely independent woman, teaching dance, cooking, and art classes in her neighborhood community, as well as participating in sports such as “Ground Golf”, (a mix of bocce ball and golf) – she still needs a little extra help around the house. Does this make her any less independent? Not at all! Independence does not only mean self-reliance and self-support, but it can also mean acknowledging your independence while also understanding your limitations; in this regard, truly understanding yourself and knowing what´s best for you is crucial in furthering your independence.

This is why community organizations such as the Multi-Service Centre in Tillsonburg are aimed at helping seniors find this balance, while encouraging healthy living. The Centre offers different programs that help with this mission, with one of the most popular being the Assisted Living Program. Assisted Living is government funded, and cost-free for participants. The program really does put an emphasis on independent living, and being able to live in the comfort of your own home. By providing services such as meal preparation, personal care, hygiene, bathing, foot care, medication monitoring, light housekeeping, social outings, and an exercise assessment, the focus is on the individual's autonomy and the concept of aging well at home. In doing this, they integrate programs such as ConnectCare. This allows them around the clock assistance for seniors and those who have functional challenges; it helps give them peace of mind.

Another popular program within the Multi-Service Centre are the Foot Care Clinics! Personal Support Workers trained in foot care go into homes and clinics in the Tillsonburg and Ingersoll areas; as well as the diabetic clinic at Tillsonburg Hospital. One-on-one service is provided by trained professionals.

Other offerings of the Multi-Service Centre include Meals on Wheels, housekeeping, transportation, exercise, and more. There is a really neat hot meal program that partners with different restaurants within Tillsonburg that offer meals for participants. This is a fun way to try something new, and to support local!

One of the most amazing aspects of the Centre is that it is entirely volunteer based! Many volunteers are independent and healthy seniors that are able to provide excellent care and service to others in need. The Centre is always looking for volunteers; if you're interested, do give them a call.

As always I asked Michelle what her favourite part of the job was, and she mentioned that despite the stress of each day, and the big challenges that sometimes spring up, just knowing that she's able to positively impact someone´s life and improve their quality of life truly makes this job so rewarding! I agree with her. My grandma is one of my biggest inspirations in life. I hope that when I´m her age that I can be as full of life and happiness as she is. The good news is that with organizations like this, I can look forward to staying independent and healthy as I age!

Thank you Michelle for all of your help and great information! For more information and how to get involved, call 519-842-9000.

Third Age Outreach

I don´t know about you, but I sometimes find it´s hard to get the exercise I need, and even harder to make new friends. When you're young, making friends seems so much easier; you sit next to someone in the classroom, or go up to someone in the playground and say, “hey, wanna be friends?” But as we age, this doesn´t happen as easily. It´s also not as easy to get your butt to the gym, or to do some gentle exercises. Life is hectic and it's so easy to make excuses. You´re too busy with your grandchildren, or you don´t feel well. What if I told you that not only staying physically active, but staying socially active, is integral to your health? I know that if I stay at home too much, without any form of healthy social interaction, I can start feeling very anxious. Even standing in my garden and tending to my plants makes me feel better; but hanging out with a few good friends, making art, chatting, laughing, or going on a walk – these things all have the power to change my outlook on life!

What does it mean to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle? Well, the definition of this changes from person to person! However, the general idea remains the same: a healthy active lifestyle consists of eating well, sleeping well, staying physically active, maintaining mental and emotional health, and having a healthy social life. These become even more important to maintain as we age! A healthy, balanced, and active lifestyle can reduce the chances of having any number of serious health problems, removing unnecessary stress from your life, and even helping to encourage independent living.

Third Age Outreach is part of St. Joseph's Health Care London's Specialized Geriatric Services program. The Outreach program operates as part of St. Joseph's Health Care, but conducts all work out of the Kiwanis Senior´s Centre, and is actually funded in part by the Local Health Integration Network. Involved with therapeutic recreation, the Outreach program gains their referrals from the geriatrics program and connects patients to programs that are in the community such as within senior's centers, church organizations, day programs, health centers, support groups, neighborhoods, and so much more! A therapeutic recreation specialist can refer you to any number of programs to promote a healthy active lifestyle.

Third Age Outreach targets aging adults of all abilities to participate in their services. Some of these include educational programs sponsored by the organization itself, the Council for London Seniors, the City of London, and the London Public Library. As well, programs like peer-to-peer senior computer education, volunteer training such as their Lean on Me program, Senior Widows and Widowers group, and even Grey Matters – a memory and brain health educational forum.

Alongside these programs, their most popular one has become the Journal Café! Being one of their newest programs, the “Journal Squad” encourages participants to share their writing in a creative writing circle by using different journaling techniques, ensuring all writing abilities can participate! Some of these journaling techniques include messy journaling, using train-of-thought techniques, daily journaling, creative writing, poetry, and so much more! Some of the fun writing activities the writing circle has used in the past are themed entries like “St. Patty's Day” for example; they wrote about topics such as luck, superstition, and what you would do if you found a pot of gold - how creative! The options for creativity and self-expression are truly never-ending; the Café offers journaling as a refuge from the daily stresses of life in a safe and accommodating space of accessibility, encouragement and social interaction with others. I can confidently say that as someone passionate about reading and writing, journaling or “putting pen to paper” can give you the solace you never knew you needed. Just think about it, when was the last time you wrote down your feelings or expressed yourself through art? Sometime it just feels good to let it out!

Not only does this organization promote well-being through journaling and education, they also offer aquatic programs: the Accessible Seniors´ Aquatic Program and the Transitional Accessible Aquatic Program for seniors. These pool programs are warm water exercises that are intended for seniors who experience limited or decreased mobility, and need a supervised workout environment. The aquatic program is run out of the Boys and Girls Club of London, and is their only program that does operate at a cost.

Another addition to their physical health and fitness offerings, Third Age Outreach also offers the Parkside 9 Golf Clinic, Canada´s first accessible golf course, located at Fanshawe Golf Course. This course was built specifically for Third Age Outreach and has a yearly tournament in August. The program can accommodate 36 people, including those with disabilities, making it fully accessible. Now, I don´t know about you, but in my opinion acts of equality and inclusivity like this are truly inspiring!

The best part is that aside from the aquatics program, everything is free! To get involved, visit the St. Joseph´s Health Care website for referral forms. Third Age Outreach is also on the health line at 2-1-1. However, most often participants hear of this program through word-of-mouth. Tell your friends or bring them along to your activities! With all of this being said, Third Age Outreach is very much a community centered program, partnering with many different organizations and even the City of London itself. Not only can you participate in the programs within this organization, the Outreach can refer you to organizations located within the local community as well.

A healthy balanced lifestyle is increasingly important as we age in order to implement a balanced and happy life. Take care of yourself and stay happy!

For more information:
Office: 519-661-1621 or 519-661-1620
Fax: 519-434-5686

Third Age Outreach Program
St. Joseph´s Health Care London
c/o Kiwanis Seniors Community Centre
78 Riverside Drive
London, ON
N6H 1B4

Growing Stronger, Together with Oxford County EMS


Did you know Oxford County has one of the highest percentages of residents aged 50 and older in Ontario? A number of our subscribers here at ConnectCare call this corner of Ontario home; with large areas of land, beautiful grassy fields, rolling hills, and farm land, it is no wonder many retire here or want to settle down! Due to the large population of aging adults, Oxford County EMS ensures seniors safety is a top priority.

Have you heard about the Medical Information file? Similar to Middlesex-London´s Cool-Aid program, this form can let emergency responders know all sorts of important medical information like any recent health problems, prescription, allergies, family doctor, and more. Some advice we were given was to update this form only if there is a big change in medical information! Make sure you also print off any prescription you have and place it in the medical information folder.

Not only does Oxford County EMS use this service, but they also provide a referral service (CREMS or Community Referrals by EMS) for those who have met the follow criteria: over 65 years in age, called 9-1-1 more than once in the past 30 days, or if it is unsafe for them to go home. If an individual has answered yes to 2 out of 3 of these criteria, or if it is unsafe to go home, they are qualified for this referral service. Do you suffer from frequent falls or any other major disruptive and repetitive incident? Do you require mental health services? Oxford County EMS is able to provide referrals to different community organizations, such as the Community Care Access Centre, in order to prevent frequent medical emergencies. Another great measure Oxford County EMS puts in place to ensure senior safety are paramedical clinics in buildings like senior centers, senior apartments, community social housing, and more. The statistics have shown that operating a 4 hour clinic 2 times a month will reduce 9-1-1 calls by 40%!

I was able to speak with Ryan Hall at Oxford County EMS about different tips and tricks to ensure senior safety at home and in the community! He mentioned the most important tip is to be prepared. This means keeping a list of all your medications, allergies, and any other health concerns with your health card and accessible at all times; and keeping this list in your purse or wallet for when you leave the house. As well, make sure your address is written very clearly and is visible; this will improve better communication and faster response time so you can get the help you need, in case of any medical emergency. As well, keeping your sidewalk and entrance clear of snow in winter time will be extremely helpful in both preventing accidents such as falls or slips. It´s so important to take any precautionary steps to reduce these terrible accidents and injuries from happening! You just never know.

I asked Ryan what someone should do if they start to feel different. He told me the advice he usually gives would be to immediately see a doctor, if possible. By doing this, you are able to connect with a healthcare professional that is able to help you understand symptoms and signs of further medical issues, and can find you treatment quickly. If you are unable to see a doctor right away, and it is an emergency, the next step would be to call 9-1-1!

By now, dedicated readers will know that I always ask people what their favourite part of the job is. For some reason, each time I interview an individual and ask this question, I always seem to catch them off guard! Most of those I interview smile and say, “That's a tough one, there are so many things!” I just love hearing about people´s jobs and why they decided to go into that profession. Ryan said if I were to ask him 17 years ago, he would have said the excitement of the job is his favourite part! However, because of his experience, Ryan can confidently say that his favourite part of the job now would be situations like being able to deliver babies every now and then! What an incredible experience that would be, right? Another favourite part of the job for Ryan is being able to affect someone when it could very well be the worst day of their life. By bringing them professional and kind service and care, knowing that you are doing your best to bring a sense of positive energy into someone´s worst day is what makes his job so fulfilling. I think that´s a great philosophy for any aspect of life; what a great lesson to learn! Thank you for your service, Ryan, and the rest of the team at Oxford County EMS for your service and dedication to the safety and health of Oxford County!

Meaningful Meals with Meals on Wheels London

While I was visiting the Meals on Wheels London office the other day to meet with Vanessa Cullen, Fund Development Coordinator, I saw an amazing turkey pot pie that smelled so good it made my stomach rumble! This dish is part of the fresh meals menu that´s offered daily at Meals on Wheels. They come packaged and include cooking instructions right on top, making cooking so easy! With a nutritionist consulted menu, there are many options to meet different dietary needs; whether you´re vegan, eat halal or kosher, or need your food´s texture modified, you can be sure to find something that will work for you! This week´s fresh menu includes braised beef, roast turkey, spaghetti, braised pork, Salisbury steak ... I´m getting too hungry; I should probably stop listing off all the delicious options!

Are you hungry yet? Fantasizing about upgrading your lunch or dinner options? Wondering where you can find yourself a delicious meal? Look no further than Meals on Wheels London! By providing and delivering nutritious hot or frozen meals, seniors over the age of 55, and adults living with disabilities are able to order healthy and tasty food. One of the main missions of Meals on Wheels is to implement and maintain the independence of aging adults or those facing long or short-term health challenges.

There are different components that make up Meals on Wheels: meal delivery, Wheels for Wellness, and The Village Table. All three of these programs incorporate the same philosophy of promoting independence. The programs offered by Meals on Wheels seek to promote not only physical health, but emotional, and social health! The social interaction with volunteers delivering meals can make a big impact on a person´s day, and the meals delivered are able to provide the individual with the ability to live within the comfort of their own home, safely and confidently.

Wheels for Wellness is part of the Meals on Wheels initiative for community outreach. Using volunteer drivers, this program helps clients get to their medical appointments within the city of London. Appointments include anything medical related such as doctor's appointments, dental checkups, naturopathy, chiropractic care, or even health-related appointments like yoga. The Wheels for Wellness program can accommodate those who need to use a walker or cane. Another program under the Meals on Wheels umbrella is The Village Table! Founded in the fall of 2016, The Village Table offers food and educational programs through different partnerships including Growing Chefs! Ontario. These educational programs include intergenerational cooking classes aimed at youth promoting an interest in culinary arts! Not only do these cooking classes promote youth based initiatives in the kitchen, but it gives seniors the chance to interact with young people and, in some ways, make them feel that youthful energy again! Giving back to the community is important at creating lasting impact and important ties within many different groups. For example, Meals on Wheels London supports YOU, a local organization that supports youth opportunities. The fresh meals distributed by Meals on Wheels London are purchased from YOU youth! This truly is a full circle impact.

From my own experience I know the impact volunteering can have on a community. For example, I once volunteered for an entire summer at a local art gallery, helping to teach children's art class for a summer camp! Putting smiles on both the children´s, and parent´s faces, made me realize how volunteer work can give back in a positive way, and create lasting and fun memories!

Meals on Wheels London relies heavily on volunteer support to get the wheels turning! With over 400 volunteers, this organization relies heavily on volunteer participation. The clients are provided not just with meals, but the social interaction that comes along with it! As they say, a simple handshake can make the biggest difference in someone´s day; a smile from one friend to the other; a meal placed in the oven or microwave; a light bulb changed; mail delivered, etc. All of these kind gestures add up and make volunteers the everyday superheroes in these people´s lives! There´s so much these volunteers do; the age-old statement is very true ...not all heroes wear capes!

As I always I do, I asked Vanessa what her favourite part of the job was. She quickly responded that it is the feedback she gets from clients who constantly express the impact this wonderful organization has had on their lives. Sometimes for these clients, the volunteers are the only people they will be able to talk to in a day. Often, it´s the little things that can make the biggest impact!

Are you interested in getting involved? Meals on Wheels offers corporate volunteering, transportation and meal delivery volunteering, fundraising and donation opportunities, and much more! For more information, do visit their website at

Thank you, Vanessa , and the rest of the amazing staff at Meals on Wheels, for taking the time to talk to me and provide me with all of this helpful information!




Puppy Love: The St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs





Igor Pugdog is quite the popular little fella. This incredible pug has an impressive resume; he has shown off his acting chops on Murdoch Mysteries, and in several films. In addition to that, he has gained many fans worldwide; some fans even send Igor Tim Horton's gift cards so he can indulge in his favourite treat-Timbits! Not only is he an actor and model, he is an avid philanthropist, raising over $25,000 for pug rescue over the past 5 years! However, the most incredible item on Igor's resume is his involvement with St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs and his role as an R.E.A.D therapy dog for children. Igor brings to his sessions with patients unconditional love, kindness, an open mind, and compassion. He is not just a dog-he is a faithful friend!

The St. John Therapy Dog Program is part of Canada´s quest at implementing practice through the interaction of an animal. The belief is that petting, affection, and regular visits from a furry friend can have a positive impact on the elderly, sick, and isolated, and can help both their physical and emotional health. Not only does one-on-one time with the therapy dogs provide comfort and happiness, but regular visitation with the handlers can create a social community with the patients.

London-Middlesex has an extensive therapy dog program with St. John Ambulance. The group has conducted around 2,600 visits to hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and more, accumulating approximately 8,000 volunteer hours. This is an incredible amount, one that needs to be celebrated! Let´s be sure to thank our therapy dog teams any chance we get!

Writing this post about therapy dogs reminds me of my own personal experience with a therapy dog. My aunt´s dog, Gracie, was a therapy dog. As a small yellow lab, Gracie was a therapy dog who wore her red and white scarf and badge with pride. Sitting in on therapy sessions, she was able to provide an unconditional, open-minded, and kind presence that is sometimes difficult for us humans to exude. Gracie, before she passed, was full of energy, love and compassion; she was a lover of belly rubs and ear scratches. Gracie never liked seeing anyone upset. Her kind nature was truly representative of a therapy dog's nature. I know from these memories of Gracie, and from meeting other therapy dogs like Igor Pugdog, that these therapy dogs possess a natural caring for others!

Going on rounds with Igor Pugdog and Tracey was such a treat! I was lucky to witness firsthand the impact therapy dogs can have on an individual´s life, and how they take their job very seriously. When asking Helen about what having a therapy dog visit means to her, she said it means support. When feeling down, Igor is able to boost her spirits and bring her happiness. Another patient, Donna, mentioned that having a therapy dog visit means relaxation, comfort, and security. In a way, it helps bring a sense of normally and routine to her life. One thing I noticed was how Igor reacted to each patient differently, picking up on their unique personalities. This makes for a very personalized experience. Judy, Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, mentioned that having a patient receive emotional support from therapy dog visits can give the patients confidence. Not only do therapy dogs provide emotional support, but as I mentioned earlier, they can be vital to encouraging physical rehabilitation efforts. The exposure to animals for these patients can change their day, or their whole outlook on life.

Keeping Your Cool with “Cool-Aid”

When I was a little kid, I would sip Kool-Aid Jammer after Kool-Aid Jammer. It was a delicious drink made from sugar, food colouring, unnatural fruit flavouring, and even more sugar. It was glorious. For those of you unlucky (or maybe lucky) enough to have never tried Kool-Aid, let me fill you in ... it´s a brand of flavoured drink mix, mostly targeted towards kids (or those who don´t want to accept adulthood!) Theses days I have replaced my Kool-Aid with water or tea, but I will never forget drinking my Kool-Aid Jammers!

Now I hear there is a new “Kool-Aid” on the block, one that, in my opinion, is way more beneficial than an overly sugary juice: the Cool-Aid Program.

For those readers who aren´t familiar with the Cool-Aid Program, it´s basically a folded up medical information form that is to be stuck on the “coolest” place in the house-the fridge! Along with it comes a sticker that says “Middlesex-London EMS, Cool Aid” to place on your window or door. When EMS and responders to the scene see the sticker, they know the form will be on the fridge. This saves them important time in an emergency. The form will tell them what medications you are on, what you´re allergic to, if you´ve had any recent surgeries, your health card number, family doctor, emergency contacts and much more. For example, if an individual has had a stroke, or is unconscious, and is unable to provide information, the paramedics are able to identify if the person is taking any medications, their medical history, and who to call in the event of an emergency, all without saying a single word!

After speaking with Miranda, Public Education Coordinator with Middlesex-London EMS, I now understand how important it is for people to be educated on emergency preparedness. I also asked her for her advice on senior safety. She came up with a few handy tips to use in conjunction with the Cool-Aid Program. One tip was to print off your most up to date prescription and staple a copy to the Cool-Aid form on your fridge. Another great tip she offered was to always make photocopies of your Cool-Aid form so that there´s no need to rewrite your form if it becomes lost or damaged. One other thing she mentioned was to stop and take a deep breath; this is an effective way to avoid the “3 o´clock fall”.

How do you get involved with this program? Call or e-mail Middlesex-London EMS! Miranda mentioned that people generally hear about this program through word-of-mouth, so make sure to tell your friends, family and neighbors all about this program!

I always like to ask people what´s the best part of their job. It´s so interesting learning about different occupations! Miranda mentioned that interacting with people of all walks of life, young or old is something she appreciates with her job. Not only that, but she said being out in the community, and having one-to-one interaction with people was a great perk! From educating young kids, to helping out seniors, we have to be sure to thank our EMS team for doing such an incredible job at providing us with the information we need to help keep our city safe!

A big thank you to Miranda Bothwell, PAD/Public Education Coordinator at Middlesex-London EMS. For more information on the Cool-Aid Program, call 519-679-5466.



A Good Place to Be: Horton Street Senior´s Centre




Last week The Horton Street Senior´s Centre was willing to extend a welcoming hand to me, to visit and explore, and so I happily accepted! You can tell by the brightly painted doorways, the loud voices of children attending summer camp, and the quiet laughter of those in the waiting room, that this place is a welcoming, happy, positive space. There's this feeling of fun energy in the building, full of laughter and life!

The Horton Street Senior´s Centre operates out of the Boys & Girls Club of London at 184 Horton Street here in London, Ontario. Sharing the building with the Boys & Girls Club means that during the summer and other school holidays there is an energetic invasion of children that adds to the building´s fun atmosphere! You won´t be bored here!

The Horton Street Senior´s Centre's main goal is to provide recreation and fitness programs to aging adults and is open to people 55 years, or older. There are many programs available to fulfill your interests and passions. From exercise, sports and leagues, social programs, arts and crafts, and even pool activities, there are many options to choose from. If you´re interested in fitness and working out, there are several programs you can choose from that focus on getting fit. The facility can even tailor your exercises for your personal goals and/or limitations.

One of the biggest draws for the Horton Street Senior´s Centre is that since it operates out of the Boys & Girls Club, the pool is also available for members. The Aquaplex pool is fully accessible, has a ramp and water wheelchair, is a warm 83 degree temperature and is 25m in length. Many of the aquatics programs that are conducted here are designed to strengthen, stabilize, and keep you fit. The Wellness Pool, another aquatics offering, focuses on smaller class sizes, and is considered more of a therapeutic pool. Classes like Gentle Fit and recreational swims are conducted in the Wellness Pool. The Wellness Pool is a warm 91 degrees, it´s also fully accessible with a hydraulic chair lift.

If you´re anything like me, sometimes you may want to take a little break here and there from physical activity and take the time to focus on more creative activities. The Centre provides many different arts and crafts programs such as drawing and painting, wood carving, “Stitch, Kit, Quilt, and Chat”, and much more. There are different social programs such as Book Club, Coffee Club Francais, the Café, and 2 choirs such as Young at Heart Singers and Joyful Renditions. For all the card sharks out there, there are leagues like bridge, cribbage and euchre.

Now, you may be asking, are there any fees involved? The fees here all depend on your household income, ranging from $70-$200 per year. If you want to try out the Centre for a day, there is a visitor´s fee of $3 which gives you access to activity programs, afternoon recreational swims, and your parking! If you´re a busy beaver and don't necessarily have the time to participate in multiple programs, there is an option of a yearly Activity Pass.

A big part of the Horton Street Senior´s Centre´s focus is to de-isolate seniors in the community. By not only providing an accessible space, but also transportation services, the Centre is able to bring the community in, ensuring everyone can participate. The transportation services available help provide isolated seniors with a sense of community and social atmosphere by providing easy to use services and transit options.

After touring the Centre, I can confidently say it contained so much positive energy! Thanks to Shelley, Manager of Seniors´ Programs and Karen, Program and Volunteer Coordinator, I was able to learn more about the Centre I have been hearing so much about. Sitting in the Senior´s Lounge, I noticed a level of comfort amongst the patrons present in the room; surrounded by books, art, and people, it was nice to enjoy the company of others in a cared-for space. As I was getting up to leave, seniors filtered in and out of the room, taking a spot on the cozy couches, gearing up for their Coffee Club meeting, laughing, chatting, and catching up on each other´s lives.

The main thing I noticed during my visit was that people here are genuinely interested in hearing all about you, from how your day is going, to what your vacation plans may be. The bottom line is, people really do care! The Horton Street Senior´s Centre´ logo is “A good place to be.” With all of these programs, and positive atmosphere, it just makes sense - this Centre is a good place to be, indeed!


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