Dick’s Story

In 1975, my late wife Doreen was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Over a 15 year period she went from having a very slight limp to being totally disabled. As her health deteriorated, my caregiving duties increased.

The first time I sought outside support was when Doreen needed a wheelchair. I went to purchase one at a local store and the sales person said, “Dick, I’d love to sell you a wheelchair but why would you buy one when you can get one for free?”

He then explained how I could access a wheelchair for my wife at no cost to me. Once I was able to track down all the services and fill out all the paper work, I received a wheelchair that same day.

This was the first time I had to navigate community supports.

In the late 1990’s Doreen had a stroke. As the nurse was getting ready to transfer Doreen out of bed she said, “How do you transfer her at home?” I replied, “The hard way. The only way I know is to lift her myself.”

The nurse replied, “You know you’ll ruin your back lifting her yourself and then what’s going to happen? You’re not going home until we get a lift.” She phoned the Saskatchewan Abilities Council who delivered a lift and told me how to set it up.

This is when I got involved with the Saskatoon Council on Aging Caregiver Program.

Over the next several years I had a lot of opportunities to talk to other caregivers and found out that I wasn’t alone; I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know that these services existed or how to find them.

When I heard about 211, I was amazed. There are 5,000 programs and services listed. It would have been a godsend to me or anyone in my same situation to know that you can easily access information with this service.

I can’t even describe what a blessing knowing about 211 Saskatchewan would have been to me or to any caregiver in the community. A 211 Saskatchewan phone service would be a real help. There are still a lot of seniors who don’t have a computer, don’t have access to one, or don’t know how to use it if they do.

To just be able to dial 211 – It would be wonderful. There are some people who are still inclined to pick up the phone for information.

A significant barrier for individuals and families to accessing the services they need is the complexity of finding the information they are looking for.

Whether it is finding assistance with basic needs such as food, shelter and employment, looking for support for an aging parent, or trying to find childcare, navigating through all of the information out there can be overwhelming, confusing and ultimately a roadblock to finding support.

211 Saskatchewan can help. Currently 211 is available across the province – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – by phoning or texting 2-1-1, or searching the easy-to-use online database at www.sk.211.ca. Each call is facilitated by certified information and trusted community navigators.

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Nicole Mulenga-WooDick’s Story