By Carol Burrows
Chair, A Journey of Hope
Cornerstone Foundation Capital Campaign
A unique component of the Cornerstone Housing for Women Foundation’s new residence at 314 Booth Street will be accommodation for 20 older women who are without a place to live. The women who come to Cornerstone have aged early because of little, or poor, health care, mental health issues, addictions, abuse or other circumstances. The provision of affordable supportive housing for this group of women has been an urgent need for at least five years because there is no other housing in Ottawa specifically designed to meet their particular requirements.
When people are aging in the community their lives are often overtaken by a variety of health concerns which can be made worse by social isolation, inaccessible surroundings and not knowing where to turn for information and assistance. Over the years, women using walkers, or with serious chronic illnesses, have come to Cornerstone’s emergency shelter. This building is not designed to meet their needs, nor is any health or personal support provided, but there was simply no alternative. This may result in an ambulance being called for a visit to a hospital emergency room, and even admission to a hospital bed.
When older people live in the community and have on-site personal support services such as help with bathing, dressing, and self-care, and nutritious meals, as well as supervision from a nurse to advise on medication use, health promotion and exercise, many issues can be avoided. The availability of support in the wee hours of the night when all our fears become over-active, and information about available resources, lifestyle issues or other needs help to provide an environment that gives seniors confidence, and allows them to age in place as a citizen in the community.
The Cornerstone Foundation is delighted that we will be able to provide supports for 20 older women at 314 Booth Street. What we are doing is right and just, but it is also cost-effective and will relieve pressures on hospitals and health care services. The community will benefit from having these women living more active lives and helping others.