Community resources to the rescue

Above, Marlo and Debbie. Courtesy photo

MOREWOOD — “I cannot say enough good things about the community support we get,” Debbie Courneyea said. 

Courneyea, 64, has been living with her mother, Marlo Smith, 82, for 17 years. While many might refer to Courneyea as Smith’s caregiver, the duo appears more like a team, best friends, even.

“Some people don’t realize what a blessing it is to have their moms,” Courneyea said.

Prior to living with her daughter, Smith was residing at the Rosemont. At the time, she had many health-related difficulties. She was on numerous medications and she was going to the local hospital almost every weekend. Then, on Mother’s Day 2002, Smith had a stroke.

Courneyea took an early retirement buyout from Bell, where she had worked most of her life, and invited her mother to live with her full-time. The two made Smith’s health their number one priority, contacting and accessing all available services and resources.

“It’s been amazing,” Courneyea said. “The help we’ve received.”

The long list of local agencies that came to their rescue include the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), the J. W. McIntosh Community Support Centre, Carefor Nor-Dun Seniors’ Support Centre, the Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH), Paramed, Bayshore Healthcare Ltd., Champlain Health Link, and more.

“We’ve had really good experiences at Winchester Hospital,” Courneyea said.

In 2007, Smith was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Since then, she has had additional health-related issues, but through it all she and her daughter have been successful in finding the right help at the right time.

With a shortage of personal support workers (PSWs), Smith receives assistance from two separate organizations: Paramed and Bayshore. Her Paramed worker, Teresa, has been with her for many years, becoming like one of the family. The two PSWs from Bayshore have also become part of Smith and Courneyea’s tight-knit support system.

“Every time we pick up the phone and ask for something, we get help,” Courneyea said.

Smith was a former volunteer with Meals on Wheels and the Diner’s Club, and Courneyea can’t say enough about the help she and her mother receive from these same services now. This past summer, she said Carefor Nor-Dun sent summer students to help with yard work and outdoor chores.

“They were amazing. They really helped me out a lot,” Courneyea said. “Caroline has just been amazing with helping us out with stuff like that.” Caroline Rooney is a supervisor at Carefor Nor-Dun Seniors’ Support Centre.

Courneyea also attends a monthly Caregiver Support Group at Carefor Nor-Dun, and she and her mother attend many of the programs, classes and lunches offered by the Winchester-based support centre.

While they are unable to travel too far, they do still go to the Upper Canada Playhouse and to Crysler for Bingo, Courneyea said.

Through the local Health Link, Smith has her lab work and vitals assessed at home every two weeks by accessing the Community Paramedic Services.

“The services we get in the community are amazing,” Courneyea said. “[The Community

Paramedic Services] save us having to go into the lab. That’s what’s allowing my mom to stay here, because we do get that help.”

To learn more about the services available for those living in Dundas County, visit the 50+Wellness Day event set for Thursday, October 3 at Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners. In addition to booths filled with relevant agency representatives, there will be several presentations, as well as a free lunch.

For more information about this event, please contact

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