What Have We Done So Far?

Download Caring Circle’s 2016/2017 Annual Plan here.

Update on Caring Circle’s Accomplishments for 2015

Caring Circle serves a critical role in the Bowen Island Community. In three short years, we have established a host of programs and services that are working to improve access to health care and resources, build health literacy, and foster community connectedness.

Our many programs are implemented by a robust group of volunteers who are committed to supporting Islanders in accessing the health services they need to remain on the Island.

The goal of the resource centre is to provide essential health information and education, as well as one-to-one health navigation by a skills-based Program Director, to direct people to the care they need in a timely fashion. Having a brick and mortar storefront with a staff person has helped solidify our role in the community and offers a physical space where community members and health care providers can go.

What Have We Done in 2015?

From Jan. 2015 to date (Dec. 31, 2015) Caring Circle has responded to 369 phone calls or visits from people looking for support in getting information about health related matters.

We gave 31 rides to Islanders to get them to their health related appointments when they had no other way to get there. Most of those rides were into Vancouver. This service is available through the work of 25 volunteer drivers and the Caring Circle Program Director manages all of this administrative work.

Caring Circle has taken a leadership role in the management of the very successful Community Lunch Program by originally applying for a federal grant on behalf of SKY, and has taken responsibility for reporting on the grant at the end of the grant cycle this March 2016. This program has attracted four other non-profit organizations on Bowen as well as BIM’s Community Recreation Department and provides bi-monthly lunches attracting 30 – 40 Islanders at each lunch. This program alleviates some of the social isolation that many seniors feel on Bowen given the lack of programming during the daytime especially.

We offered two-six week education evenings for people suffering from anxiety and depression. Each six week session was attended by 8 people and facilitated by two mental health professionals and offered free of charge.

We offered two-six week “Conscious Aging” workshops in partnership with the Bowen Library. Some of the topics discussed were “Death and Dying”, “Aging and Dying – the Practicalities and Local Resources” and “Self-Compassion”

We are in the process of developing a “Befriending” Program whereby volunteers will visit isolated Islanders for a social time talking, walking, going for a drive, etc.

We have organized:
• three hearing clinics,
• a diabetic education clinic
• a COPD / asthma clinic presented by VCH
• An “Anti-Cancer Lifestyle” talk by an educator from Inspire Health
• and an “Early Signs of Dementia” lecture by the Alzheimer Society.

Caring Circle regularly connects various independent service providers with clients looking for support i.e. companion support workers with frail seniors, cleaners and gardeners with those who need help around their homes, chefs and food outlets with those needing pre-prepared meals, and referring Islanders to various health and wellness practitioners etc. We support economic activity on Bowen by connecting entrepreneurs with clients.

Applied to Community Gaming for operational support

Acquired major Provincial Funding for our operating costs for 2015 and part of 2016

Managed 32 volunteers at our annual fundraising work at the recycling depot

Presented a slide presentation to VCH appealing for Health Authority financial support

Had our first AGM and recruited two new board members

Participated in the Literacy Advocacy Group Board on Island with attention to health education. This new relationship facilitated a grant for mental health support programming

Maintained our website adding new information and updates regularly

Supported a local Islander in her efforts to enable mobility challenged Islanders to safely access Island trails. We assisted by researching equipment options and exploring local funding opportunities and advised on the application. This initiative was ultimately successful.

We have attracted a strong and committed board that has supported the work of Caring Circle through the creation of best practices for non-profits i.e. the creation of annual plans, yearly retreats, and for the first time this year – 2016, we are developing a strategic plan.

We have a very collegial relationship with BIAC and Bowen Tourism and happily share the Heritage Cottage during the summer months. Caring Circle staff and volunteers often play a duo role in offering information to tourists.

People often ask: Who Comes into Caring Circle and What are Their Concerns. Here is a taste of some of the requests for help this year:

– A common request is from people scheduled for surgery, wondering what resources they have to get into place to make their rehab on Bowen go more smoothly.
– Many family members have inquired about resources to support an elderly family member at home as they are becoming increasingly frail. They also needed advice as to options for assisted living in Vancouver.
– People want to know how VCH might offer health support and how to access VCH programs and services
– People ask about government programs like applying for OAS, CPP, Disability Pensions, TAP forms, Handicap parking permits, assured loading information, and medical equipment information
– A few parents looking for health information and resources for young families on Bowen
– People looking for information about the North Shore Palliative Care Program
– LGH has called on a number of occasions to inquire about rehabilitation services on Bowen Island in order to discharge a patient who has compromised mobility or needing more home support than they can provide.
– Neighbours have called worried about a person who they feel might be living at risk. Caring Circle often plays a role in supporting neighbors and friends by giving them resource information that is helpful in referring people to VCH services.
– People often come in with chronic disease issues or cancer treatment complications and looking for support i.e. nutrition, medical equipment, transportation assistance, information re their diagnosis, etc.
– The most frequent request for help is from people looking for someone to help them in their homes with simple activities of daily living. These are generally not caregivers trained in nursing, but are “companions” doing daily work such as cooking, driving, reading to, walking with, or helping get washed and dressed.
– The Caring Circle Program Director also plays a critical role on the Medical Clinic Board, in an effort to improve access to primary care on Bowen by building a clinic.

A lot has been achieved by our small group of dedicated volunteers in our first year and a half…(2013-2014)

  • Authored Bowen Island Health Resource Guide
  • Developed ‘living’ website
  • Opened the Bowen Island Health Resource Centre, operating 3 days a week
  • Engaged over 30 volunteers in various roles
  • Created several programs
  • Advocated with VCH, the municipality, societies and foundations, and private enterprise to support our initiatives.
  • Acquired $55,000 from grants and donations

Click the image below to see our presentation showing what we’ve accomplished


Programs Developed

  • Health Navigation
  • Advance Care Planning Workshop
  • Driver Program
  • Identified as the Lead in the VCH health needs assessment survey
  • Support Group for Anxiety and Depression
  • Lunch program for Seniors (in partnership with Seniors Keeping Young)

Under discussion

Why is this so important to Bowen Island?

  • Aging in place is needed – people are having to leave their homes and their community
  • Anxiety around health and wellness needs attention
  • Health and wellness support allows people to feel safe
  • Community becomes more health literate and resilient
  • Improved primary and urgent care clinic on Bowen will save lives
  • Social connection/cohesion enhanced
  • Advocacy is critical to coordinating and implementing programs
  • We will be the catalyst for change
  • Economically lack of health support impacts our community – people choose not to live here or set up business on our island when health care support isn’t in place

Are there other models for health advocacy in other communities?

Powell River has hired a health navigator using a partnership model between VCH and the local physicians. They share salary costs 50/50 in this trial program. We believe this may be possible if the Bowen Island Municipality and Vancouver Coastal Health partner to provide support for this essential program.