Have you ever noticed that you never really pay attention to something until you actually need it? Are you a person who scratches the number of an agency on the back of a grocery receipt, never to be seen again? No more. Now you can find what you need at www.communityresourceguide.org, a new, up-to-date online clearinghouse that catalogs local, state and federal resources ranging from Alzheimer’s support to Veteran’s programs and everything health-related in between. The Community Resource Guide is the result of a partnership between Healthy Peninsula and its Thriving in Place Downeast (TiPD) partner Blue Hill Memorial Hospital (BHMH), who collaborated to develop the site in an effort to offer quick, updated reference for services, programs, and organizations. The Resource Guide also provides enough descriptive information to be an educational tool for medical providers, patients, caregivers and community members to learn more in-depth information about each resource.
“I just don’t know where to turn” is something that is heard frequently by social workers, physicians and family members when life changes present new challenges to health and wellness. This sentiment was echoed across the Peninsula and on Deer Isle-Stonington in interviews and focus groups conducted during the TiPD planning year in 2014. TiPD’s 10+ collaborating agencies conducted these interviews to discover what folks in our local communities felt were their biggest concerns about aging in their communities. Keeping track of resources – a difficult task even for seasoned service providers and medical professionals – was high on the list of challenges faced by seniors and their families. Communityresourceguide.org was developed with those concerns specifically in mind.
The first roll-out of www.communityresourceguide.org was to BHMH staff and its 3 family medicine practices earlier this fall, during the first year of this 3-year TiPD grant-funded initiative. Using the guide as a desktop reference, it is designed to quickly assist the staff to locate information relevant to a patient’s needs. “I use it all the time when I am working with my patients,” said Susan Haines, RN, Case Manager at Blue Hill Family Medicine. Not only is the staff accessing the website on behalf of their patients, but they can also print www.communityresourceguide.org materials for patients and caregivers to take away.
The guide is also designed to make it easier for patients and caregivers to find what they need, themselves. Above and beyond providing updated information for healthcare providers, this website is a user-friendly, comprehensive tool that family caregivers living in other areas of the state or across the country can use from any computer, on their schedule. Navigating from the Blue Hill Memorial Hospital website (www.bhmh.org), where the guide is housed, or by going directly to www.communityresourceguide.org, they can begin to proactively educate themselves and research what is available for their loved ones.
We have the privilege of living in an area where people value caring for each other. Neighbors look out for neighbors and friends keep track of each other. For these reasons, one of our goals with the Healthy Peninsula/BHMH collaboration is to saturate our 9 town area with this resource guide information so everybody should know somebody who knows about this website. Healthy Peninsula will soon be embarking on an ambitious campaign to get this information out into the community. Libraries, churches, town offices and grocery stores will have the opportunity to learn about the website and share the information in whatever way they wish. The First Congregational Church in Blue Hill, for example, has added the website to its community resource card and included it in its newsletter to parishioners.
At some point, everyone knows someone who is looking for help. Communityresourceguide.org is here for them, for you, for us all. Take a look, share a resource if it is missing and pass the good news along so we as a strong, supportive community can reduce the possibility of anyone saying “I just don’t know where to turn”!
BY: Janet Lewis, Executive Director, Healthy Peninsula.