When Andrea got injured and suddenly found herself housebound and on ODSP, she needed help both fetching and paying for her groceries. Andrea’s friend brought her groceries every week. Andrea’s friend was her safety net.

It was the worst day of her life. Andrea, a personal support worker for an elderly man who lived a few streets away from her, was crossing the street on her way to her client’s house when a bike collided into her at high speed. The driver had his head down and, in that split second, didn’t see her in front of him. The impact was enough to break her left femur and the fall resulted in a minor head injury.

“It was awful,” recalls Andrea. “One minute I was on my way to work, the next I was down on the ground. I couldn’t move. And I was surrounded by paramedics.”
She spent several days at the hospital, where her leg was cast up to her hip, and she was monitored to ensure the head injury was healing. Doctors said it wasn’t guaranteed that she would regain full function of her leg. “I panicked when they told me this,” she says. “Much of my work is physical – Assisting clients in and out of the shower, holding their arm when we go for a walk. Helping them in and out of chairs.”

When she returned home after being released from the hospital, she applied for the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) to cover at least part of her loss of income. She was told the approval process could take months, if not years, for some. “It wasn’t nearly enough to live on, but I couldn’t even access it right away anyway,” she says. As a private sponsored worker for only a year at the time of the accident, Andrea wasn’t eligible for unemployment insurance. 

She was also alone in the country, without any family to help her. “I couldn’t figure out how I would make ends meet. I became depressed.”

That’s when her “guardian angel” showed up at her door with flowers and groceries and a smile. Her friend, Penelope, a fellow personal support worker, had heard about the accident and came as soon as Andrea returned home from the hospital. “She came in like the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I was so happy to see her.”

Penelope told Andrea not to worry and that she would bring her groceries and supplies every week until either she was healed and able to work again, or at least until her ODSP payments came through. Penelope had rallied some other friends in their personal support worker community to contribute some funds.

“It was such a relief,” says Andrea. “But even more than that, it felt so good to be cared for, looked after, by Penelope and others in my community. I cried when she left. And I also knew I was going to be okay.”
“Thank you, Penelope, and friends, for being my safety net!”

*Andrea’s name and photo have been changed to protect her identity

Be a safety net

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