Hope’s Free Rein Associates is offering smartphones to clients through a new program called Care Connections. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Hope’s Free Rein Associates is offering smartphones to clients through a new program called Care Connections. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Hope’s Free Rein Associates brings smartphones to those without

Care Connection program provides essential tool for job searches and connecting to services

Cell phones are essential tools for staying connected in today’s digital world, and if you don’t have one you’re at a severe disadvantage.

Care Connections looks to level the playing field for people in Hope.

Free Rein Associates, a local organization, intends to put smartphones in the hands of those that need them the most.

Ten phones are now available for people who self-identify as living with a disability and do not currently own a smartphone or similar device. Recipients must be participants in Reins of Freedom employment programming, and require access to ongoing health care and social services through Reins of Freedom, the Hope and Area Transition Society, WorkBC or another organization.

“Having a personal smartphone can open up a lot of doors to opportunities traditionally marginalized populations may have been unable to access before,” said Megan te Boekhorst, Program Coordinator for Care Connections. “Just imagine how challenging it would be to look for work or to even access a doctor without having a reliable phone number you could be reached at.”

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Reins of Freedom (895 3rd Avenue) operates under the Free Rein Associates umbrella, delivering employment services to people with disabilities.

Care Connections is intended to accomplish five things.

– Increase communication with providers (e.g. follow-ups with clients or patients to confirm appointments, arrange follow-up care or services)

– Enable clients to connect with community resources and services

– Enable clients to connect with their social support system (e.g. friends, family)

– Increase use of mobile technology

– Increase awareness of public health messaging

People taking advantage of Care Connections will receive a customized one-hour digital literacy workshop on phone usage and services available. Their smartphone will come with $10 pre-loaded and $25 top-up phone cards (up to four times).

“Care Connections is designed to increase technology use skills, improve access to health care and social services, and help people stay connected to one another,” said te Boekhorst. “We’ll be checking in with program participants to address any challenges they may be facing and evaluate how the access to technology is impacting their lives in those three critical areas.”

A Reins of Freedom Community Support Worker will provide phone-use support when needed, and clients will be able to access wifi through the Reins of Freedom office, open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Funding for Care Connections is coming from the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC BC) and Fraser Health Authority, as part of the Connect to Care grant program.


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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