Cancer is not Cancelled
Providing programs and support via phone and online has been deemed an essential service by our members. We address the fear, isolation, disruption & practical challenges cancer brings to the lives of patients, their caregivers & families.
Currently, we are operating two separate phone systems for each of our locations. Functionality, privacy and remote management capabilities would be significantly enhanced by using one system, an internal priority for our organization. For example: we are not able to forward individual phone lines from our main phone number at our Carma House location. Doing so, forwards all 20 lines to one phone number. Two Centre Managers have been redeployed to our centre phones to manage all incoming calls previously managed by volunteers. This redeployment enables us to answer all calls to ensure responsive coordination/referral is supported and urgent needs addressed. Centre Managers have engaged Peer Support volunteers who they triage calls to, the volunteer returns and answer calls supporting our most vulnerable members to ensure their needs are met. To date, we have engaged, trained and provided support to 40% of our in-house volunteers to support our efforts and meet the demand. Carma House staff and volunteers are making calls from their personal phone numbers which does not allow for privacy nor professionalism as personal phone numbers are displayed.
Functionality and compatibility of our two separate phone systems became an issue when, on March 12, 2020, Wellspring Calgary was forced to suspend its in-person community-based, holistic, free, evidence-informed in-person activities and programs for people living with cancer, their caregivers and families (our members). On March 13, we proactively reached out to members and external partners communicating the programs and supports immediately available over the phone: a Helpline, Money Matters, Peer Support and Transitions Support Coach.
Who Will it Benefit?
Every day, 58 Albertans hear the words "you have cancer". 1 in 2 Albertans will hear these words in their lifetime. Wellspring exists to support the 30%-70% of the population requiring emotional, educational, social, practical, and restorative needs of adults living with cancer, their caregivers and families at any point during their cancer journey (diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, recurrence, end of life). We have 3 key phone programs available to all members:
Money Matters is the only community-based program of its kind available at a provincial level, available to all Albertans with a cancer diagnosis. It is available to those who have lost their jobs, are self-employed, parents unable to work while caring for children, those who have unpaid bills, individuals seeking assistance with online applications, questions about mortgage deferrals, drug coverage, and EI/new benefits announced by governments. Imagine the added complexity while navigating a cancer diagnosis, treatment, brain fog, recovery, or a terminal prognosis. We have one dedicated staff member, a Master of Social Work professional, supports those who require front line assistance and provides support and information to external professionals representing the health system.
Peer Support are trained volunteers with lived experience who provide confidential support and practical strategies. The cancer experience, one’s mental health and loneliness are exacerbated and compounded during this time of isolation and will intensify until this crisis is over. We continue to answer all calls and spend time with members to ensure they are safe, supported and aware of available resources. This program is open to anyone living with cancer, including caregivers. In addition to providing listening and support, Peer Support encourages members to stay connected through online programming with new programs added regularly.
Wellspring also offers a Transitions Support Coach who is a Registered Social Worker offering one-on-one appointments to support during times of transition, grief, loss of hope, and suffering. Individuals and families continue to deal with being newly diagnosed, recurrence, a terminal prognosis/end of life, living with a cancer that may never go away, and increased caregiver burden and less available supports. This program is open to anyone living with cancer including caregivers, loved ones, and those who are bereaved.