Technological Help to Ease Isolation...

Blue Heron Support Services Association (BHSSA) was awarded a grant through the Emergency Community Support Fund for a project to reduce isolation through the use of technology. Individuals that experience developmental disabilities and other complex needs such as mental health or acquired brain injury already experience isolation due to limited social connections, limited resources, limited support, limited financial resources and stigma. These challenges for people were already a significant barrier before the COVID 19 pandemic began. Once the COVID 19 pandemic started in 2020, individuals that we support as well as the general community became more and more socially isolated. This isolation has had a great impact on many people's mental and physical health. Being disconnected from our loved ones, not being able to see our friends or family, not being able to engage in social activities and leisure has only increased our isolation and stress levels every day. Social isolation is something that individuals with complex needs experience and are significantly impacted by. This grant has provided the opportunity to remove some of those barriers throughout this difficult time as the pandemic is occurring and will continue to provide benefit even after the pandemic is over. Through the use of this grant we have been able to provide Tablets and access to the internet to many people. One lady cried when she was given the Tablet. She can now talk to her grandchildren and her family through social media and other virtual means. This has improved her mental health and improved her perception of her overall health in the last few weeks.


Other programs that this grant has helped to fund include: 1. Social media facebook page for individuals and staff. This facebook page helps individuals to practice using social media and online safety skills.2. Opportunities to develop relationships across the world for individuals. 3. Virtual reality social skills programs. Connecting with others using virtual reality to engage in social interactions, leisure activities or having new experiences that could otherwise not be had. i.e. touring the Eiffel Tower in Paris! 4. Gaming challenges through video gaming consoles across the world. 5. Connecting individuals in service with BHSSA in remote locations across the province. 6.Accessible equipment for individuals that required specialized devices including special keyboards required due to disabilities such as vision issues or hearing problems. 7. Zoom based leisure programming, social connection opportunities, and skill building courses designed to identify isolation and reduce it's impact through education and support. This is just a small list of things that this grant has helped BHSSA to facilitate for the individuals that it supports. The power of technology can help so many people, if only they had the access to these supports.


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