Helena Oosthoek (right) of the Golden Family Centre stand outside of the GFC building at their Bell Lets Talk stand. Currently, the family centre is accommodating social distancing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Claire Palmer photo)

Golden Family Centre open online during COVID-19

The centre will continue to support the community throughout the pandemic as best they can virtually

The Golden Family Centre is continuing to support the community of Golden during the COVID-19 pandemic while faced with adjusting many of their services to comply with social distancing guidelines.

While the family centre itself is physically closed, the staff continue to provide support to their clients over the phone or via video chat.

“Every staff member connected with the people that they were seeing and then set up a different way of connecting,” said Helena Oosthoek, executive director at the Golden Family Centre.

“We’re listening to people’s preferences and it’s working reasonably well. We’re also still accepting new clients.”

The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t just affect physical health, as many feel a mental toll on their well-being due to the uncertainty the pandemic brings with it and with many concerned financially.

While it can be distressing time, Oosthoek emphasizes that it’s perfectly okay to feel that strain in your life and to acknowledge things are out of our control because of the pandemic.

“All these reactions, they’re totally normal but it’s important to acknowledge that what you’re feeling it totally normally while something this huge is happening,” said Oosthoek.

“Don’t fight it too much, those feelings, there’s nothing wrong with them. Just make sure you’re staying connected in all the ways that are possible.”

Oosthoek also says it’s important to maintain structure, especially for those working from home, where work and home life can blend together.

“Allow yourself as a part of that structure to think about other things and to focus on things like art or music, or even just going outside of a walk,” said Oosthoek.

“Life can become a big soup these days, so getting that structure back can be a key change.”

For those who require additional support, the Family Centre continues to offer their drop-in counselling on Wednesdays, with new patients encouraged to call in to book their virtual time slot.

The health department at the hospital is also open and working by phone for those who are struggling at a certain point.

Oosthoek says all the programs at the family centre are aware of the impact that COVID-19 can have on mental health and are working on adjusting programming to accommodate this new change.

“Reach out. People will find a way to connect you to the organization or program that can be of most help,” said Oosthoek.

The centre is working on finding new creative ways to connect with their clients.

In particular, staff are trying to connect with kids in the community.

According to Oosthoek, it can be harder to stay connected with young people because talking on the phone doesn’t work well for some of them.

It’s also entirely dependant on the technology available to a given family.

She says that a popular way to connect with kids has been through online gaming such as Minecraft.

The family centre is also partnering with the local midwives to form a virtual support group for pregnant women.

The family centre will be posting notices on Facebook to keep the community updating on their programming throughout COVID-19.

Currently, staff are working on a new information page with a collection of links with up to date information and resources for the pandemic, which they will be posting to the family centre’s Facebook page.

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