Recognizing the dedicated work of our members and their relationship with the KW4 Ontario Health Team
Cathy Harrington (center) photographed at the Woolwich Active Living Fair with (left to right) CEO of Grand River Hospital, Ron Gagnon; Executive Director of KW4 OHT, Ashnoor Rahim; Ministry of Health, Hon. Sylvia Jones; MPP, Mike Harris Jr.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your organization?
Cathy Harrington is the Executive Director of Community Care Concepts, a non-profit charitable organization based in Elmira, Ontario. The organization services’ focus on the three townships of Woolwich, Wellesley, and Wilmot, as well as several system-wide projects that carry them across Waterloo Wellington. Community Care Concepts offers services that help older adults and adults with unique needs live independently in their own homes for as long as they are able to do so. Their services include prevention and outreach programs such as exercise and falls prevention, community dining, meals on wheels, transportation, home support, adult day programs, friendly visiting programs, and hospital discharge support. They provide a full range of services to supporting some of the frailest members of the community who might be transitioning to other levels of care.
What drew you to Community Care Concepts originally? And has Community Care Concepts changed since?
Cathy Harrington was drawn to Community Care Concepts because of her background in gerontology and experience working in the community and social service sector. She always wanted to have a direct impact on the community. Over the past 12 years, the organization has made significant changes, taking on a more proactive approach to identifying people who could benefit from their services and engaging them sooner in the process. Community Care Concepts adopted a community outreach framework to keep people active and engaged, provide practical support, and address increasing levels of complexity. Their services have expanded to cover a broader range of needs, and they are building a system to support aging well in the community. The organization has grown significantly, and they are now serving more people in one township than they did as an entire organization five years ago.
What do you like most about Community Care Concepts?
Cathy Harrington greatly appreciates the dedicated team of staff who are actively involved in the community. The organization has 25 staff members and nearly 100 volunteers, and they could not do their work without them. The community members are highly engaged, from local service clubs to municipalities, they are invested in supporting residents of the local communities. Additionally, they collaborate with their rural service delivery partners and community partners to respond directly to needs in the community. Overall, Cathy Harrington appreciates the opportunity to work with the staff, volunteers, partners, and community members to achieve their mission.
Can you tell us what your role is with the OHT?
Community Care Concepts is a member agency of the Ontario Health Team (OHT) and was involved in the development of the KW4 OHT before it was formalized. Cathy participates as a member of the steering committee and various working groups, including the leadership team for the Neighborhood Integrated Care Team project and other activities that the OHT is focused on. Their organization is highly engaged in many aspects of the OHT’s work.
Cathy is also leading the LEGHO (Let’s Go Home) initiative aimed at supporting hospital discharges into the community and expanding Community Support Services (CSS) navigation support into primary care practices to improve patient care.
How does your organization align with the values and goals of the OHT?
Community Care Concepts aligns with the values and goals of the OHT in several ways. They strive to enhance their services and impact to better respond to the needs of the individuals and communities they serve, which is in line with the OHT's focus on improving services in the community. Their organization is built on collaboration and working across health and social service systems, which is also a core value of the OHT. This collaboration across members of the health system and beyond also aligns with the OHT's focus on social determinants of health. They prioritize achieving results and delivering on their commitments in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible. Overall, Community Care Concepts' foundational principles and approach align well with the values and goals of the OHT.
What do you hope to see in the near future with your continued partnership with the OHT?
With their continued partnership with the OHT, Cathy hopes to establish relationships with other components of the health and social service system. For example, they have actively participated in discussions with local hospitals and primary care teams. These relationships have helped them build a foundation for integrated models of care to support the individuals they serve. Through these relationships, they can bring new ideas and continue to enhance how they work together.