Plenty to Celebrate at the Victoria Health Co-op

By Vanessa Hammond

Let’s start with two questions:
Do you like going out to a café?
Would it be helpful for the co-op to make nursing services available through partner organizations?

First, the Co-op Cafés

Thanks to the hard work of Victoria Health Co-op member-owner Bruce Livingston, and the support of the City of Victoria, we are organizing a series of “Co-op Cafés”. You may be asking, “What is a Co-op Café?” At Co-op Cafés we learn about co-ops in general (enterprises set up to meet the mutual needs of the member-owners, rather than to maximize profit for shareholders). At each Café we meet the passionate people who are member-owners and leaders of a co-op in our community. 

Snacks are always part of these events! We will start this monthly series in the fall and invite you to suggest co-ops we should invite to tell us about their work. We hope you will also suggest topics for discussion – anything about co-ops and how we contribute to our communities. In addition, we are looking for venue suggestions that are no-cost or low-cost so that our budget can focus on travel costs for the co-op presenters, and on the all-important snacks.

Please email or call us with your suggestions, or leave a note for the co-op at the front desk of the James Bay Community Project. Please do not leave Health Co-op mail to the reception desk of the medical clinic – as you know, we sold this to Whiteye Clinics some time ago as we were no longer willing to subsidize the medical facility and wanted to get back to our original aim of focusing on health and wellness.

Thank you, Bruce, for initiating this Co-op Café series. It will be enjoyable and interesting.

And now for the second topic of celebration – nursing and wellness services

It is kinder, logical and more economical to do everything possible to help people maintain wellness rather than to wait until they become ill or injured and then have them wait for months for attention from very high-cost medical services. We want to do all we can to shift the focus of health care so that it really is about health and not medical and surgical fixes of problems. For optimal wellness, we need the full range of wellness and health professionals.

Thanks to the hard work of the BC Association of Community Health Centres, we have now received transitional funding to help us move in this direction. This will enable us to hire a part time registered nurse or a nurse practitioner. We want to find the most effective way of co-ordinating this with the outstanding health work already being done by the wellness practitioners of the Victoria Health Co-op. We are in conversation with a number of potential partners about where this part-time RN or NP would see patients, establish a roster of patients, and support wellness education.

For this new venture also, please let us have your ideas.

Looking to the future, our sister organization, the Creating Community Wellness Society, is applying for funding to set up an informal network of seniors to provide help to each other. This would not aim in any way to duplicate formal, on-going, paid, services of the organizations that already provide personal care, house-keeping etc. But many seniors, and others, face sporadic, short-term challenges. Imagine living alone, being suddenly hospitalized, then being discharged and needing a ride home or to the grocery store, or help in removing some expired items from the fridge. Or imagine needing a little support with reorganization if one partner has moved to a care facility. We would love to hear your thoughts about this topic.

We have also heard from several people living in large homes and interested in sharing their house on a co-housing basis, but wanting some legal and organizational security for themselves, as owners, and others as co-residents. The Health Co-op is applying for funding to identify the obstacles to this idea and the solutions. Please share your thoughts about this as well.

Lastly, we have several persons of the month to mention. Bruce and Robin have put much effort into developing proposals and deserve our thanks. Bill, Anna-Marie, Kelsey and Mollie shared in representing the Victoria Health Co-op at the Co-op Housing Federation Conference. Selina, John and Scott have done excellent work on communications – many thanks to these volunteers. Let us know how you would like to help the Victoria Health Co-op. Email our chair, Vanessa, at or 250.415.9272.

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