TORONTO — In sharing his time and his talents in the craft with other patients of the health centre in her community, Tammy McEvoy got in return, probably more than what she had given.
Tammy McEvoy is one of the 15 volunteers of the community health Centre Belleville and Quinte West, Ontario, who participates in an innovative pilot project in which health professionals call an “order of society” to patients suffering from depression, anxiety or loneliness.
The concept — prescribe an activity such as a yoga class or a visit to an art gallery — has already been proven in the United Kingdom, where research has shown that patients had not only improved their mental health, but in the end also reduce their doses of medications and number of visits to the doctor.
Since the beginning of the pilot project in the month of October, Ms. McEvoy has given the course of manufacture of crowns and prepared a dinner for a group of people addicts.
The course of manufacture of crown and attracted fifteen participants.
“The first that I’ve done, I’ve seen magic happen because they all started to help each other,” says the woman, 52-year-old, who is often alone when her husband works long hours.
“I’ve spent the last six years not to work and not to go out for health reasons,” says Ms. McEvoy, who suffers from a heart problem. But now I can go down there, I’m comfortable there.”
“It helps me as much as it helps.”
To break down the isolation
Meghan Shanahan Thain, social worker at the health centre of Trenton, explains that the program is based on the british model “Altogether Better”.
“People come up with their own ideas according to their talents and their skills, but they also bring a perspective that we don’t have in terms of the needs of the community and our clients,” she says about volunteers.
She cites the example of an activity of singing, which has given rise to a beautiful encounter between people become widows.
“The music brings together really the people, but it also affects people socially isolated, raises. The simple fact of having a social connection has many health benefits. Being socially isolated can make us sick in different ways.”
The pilot project of a duration of 18 months is funded by a grant of $ 600,000 from the ontario ministry of Health. It is conducted in a total of 10 centres, ” says Kate Mulligan, director of communications for the Alliance for healthy communities.
“An example of Thunder Bay, which is truly touching is that of a trucker who was experiencing social isolation and who has set up a group knitting at the community health centre,” says Ms Mulligan.
Contributing to the community life, the participants are depending on it to “recognize their own value”.
“We are no longer simply seen as a patient with deficits and problems, but as a person who has something to offer”, explains she.
The community health centre Rexdale Toronto is also involved in the pilot project. A large proportion of its patients are newcomers at risk of social isolation, which can lead to depression and anxiety, ” explains the doctor Sonali Srivastava.
“The research shows us really that social integration is an important part of the level of happiness and health of people, does it. If it is missing a social component, it is necessary to deal with them.”
This could rhyme with a prescription for a course of tai-chi, for example, or for a visit to the museum.
A change of paradigm
The Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal (MBAM) and the royal Ontario Museum (ROM) have adopted the idea.
A recent study conducted by the MMFA, McGill University and the jewish general Hospital has revealed that seniors who participated in workshops of drawing and painting were a greater sense of well-being, health and quality of life.
The ROM will from this month thousands of free passes to patients with prescriptions for the social visit of the exhibitions in the company of three friends.
The environment museum is restful, ” said Jennifer Czajkowski, deputy director of social engagement at the ROM.
“[Visitors] are with other people. They are also able to see objects that may come from their own heritage, things that help them to connect to their own culture or to other cultures, in other times and in other places,” she argues.
According to dr. Srivastava, the centre Rexdale, the order of social reflects a change in the way the medical community perceives the health and well-being, as well as its own role in this chapter.
“If I tell someone : “I want that you walk 30 minutes, three times per week”, it will be less likely to do that if I wrote on a prescription”, she said.