Doctors and health providers treat loneliness by prescribing yoga and crochet lessons

Doctors and health providers treat loneliness by prescribing yoga and crochet lessons

Kitchener-Waterloo

Guelph doctors, health providers treat loneliness by prescribing yoga and crochet lessons

The Guelph Community Health Centre is one of 11 health centres taking part in a social prescription pilot

Paula Duhatschek · CBC News · Posted: Aug 13, 2019

Participants take part in Soup and Crochet with Grandma Penny. (Submitted by Karrie Cumming)

[Excerpt] A new program in Guelph is helping doctors and nurse practitioners diagnose and treat a condition that’s seen as a growing threat to public health: social isolation. 

The Guelph Community Health Centre is one of 11 health centres across the province taking part in a “social prescription” program that connects patients with group activities, such as Zumba classes and sewing circles.

“Across the board … loneliness is being seen more and more as a as a health concern,” said Karrie Cumming, a health promoter at the Guelph CHC, who noted that the centre’s program is targeting key populations including newcomers and those with mental health and addiction issues.

Research suggests that people who are isolated have a 50 per cent greater risk of early death — a figure that’s roughly equivalent to the negative health impact of smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to a 2017 report by Ontario’s chief medical officer of health. 

Some of the programs on deck locally include English conversation circles, a community garden and a popular drop-in program, “Soup and Crochet with Grandma Penny.”

“I’ve seen changes in folks that regularly attended,” said Izabela Lukomska, who has taken part in programs as both a client and volunteer.

“I’ve seen people make connections … I saw a neighbour of mine talk more, become more verbal, more connective, more willing to take chances to be outside of her regular self.”

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