Heart Health in Halton

At Halton Region, we encourage and support our residents to make healthy choices.  In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about how making healthy choices can help prevent the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women in Halton but it is preventable and manageable. Eating healthily, keeping physically active and living tobacco-free can help reduce risk of heart disease.

Halton Region offers many programs and services that support healthy eating, physical activity and tobacco cessation. Below are some examples of the programs and services that the Halton Region Health Department provides.

  • Our Community Food Advisor Program helps educate community groups about the skills needed to adopt healthy eating habits. Participants also learn more about safe handling and food storage.
  • Farm to School works with local organizations to bring fresh, locally grown produce into Halton elementary schools to help influence healthy eating habits in a positive way that can also help children understand where food comes from.
  • Eat Smart helps employers in the Region provide healthy food choices to employees by offering awards to companies that maintain high standards of food safety while also offering nutritious food choices in the work place.
  • Walking is a great way to add physical activity into the day. The Count Your Steps Program is a partnership between Halton Region and participating libraries and municipalities that allows residents to borrow pedometers to help track their progress.
  • Through WalkON , Halton Region works to engage the community, municipal staff, and elected officials in the creation of built environments that support walking for active transportation.
  • Halton’s Stop Smoking Clinics work directly with residents who smoke to determine personalized methods of quitting, free of charge.
  • Our Tobacco Cessation Community of Practice brings together health professionals interested in helping people live smoke free to share and learn more about cessation.

If you would like to learn more about these and other programs, please dial 311 or visit www.halton.ca/healthresources.

If you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

New online tools for parents: “Kindergarten: Ready, Set, Go!”

We’ve been making our website a priority over the past few years – to improve the information and resources we have available to the residents of Halton and increase the interactivity of our site. Now, parents of children ages three or four will find everything they need to know to help prepare their child for the transition to kindergarten in the new “Kindergarten: Ready, Set, Go!” pages.

Prepared in partnership between Halton Region, the Halton District School Board, the Halton Catholic School Board and the Ontario Early Years Centres, parents will find comprehensive information and interactive tools such as:

Topics and resources cover the five key areas of child development, health and building healthy lifestyles, setting routines, parenting tips, reading, schedules of school PD days and holidays, and upcoming local parenting presentations.Ready Set Go

In Halton, almost one in four five-year olds (Our Kids Network Report Card, Early Development Instrument) results is not ready for school. Halton Region, in partnership with our community organizations, want to help change this statistic and ensure parents in our region have the information, resources and support they need to help give their children the confidence and skills they need to succeed in school. The “Kindergarten: Ready, Set, Go!” pages should certainly help them achieve this goal.

Keep in mind that parents with children of any age – from pregnancy to raising teenagers –can connect directly with one of our public health nurses or child development staff at any time, in many ways, through HaltonParents:

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

The new Family Health Information Line – your connection to a local public health nurse

Did you know that you can talk directly with a local public health nurse any weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. about a wide range of topics for you or your family? The Halton Region Health Department now offers the Family Health Information Line (FHIL) where nurses will provide you with comprehensive, research-based information, support and counselling.

When you call FHIL, you will talk with one of seven nurses who can help you with your questions related to:

  • Mental health
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Safety and injury prevention
  • Local supports and programs
  • Overall health and wellness

These nurses also service the telephone support for HaltonParents, where local parents can get advice and support about:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding support
  • Parenting – from birth to teens
  • Child/youth behaviour and health concerns
  • Preconception information
  • And much more…

HaltonParents public health nurses also offer support to parents online through the website, Twitter (@HaltonParents) and a parenting blog, with Facebook soon to come.

But FHIL is not restricted only to parents and the general public. It is also a great service for professionals across the Region. Physicians and other health providers, school professionals and child care professionals can receive access to evidence-based information and resources for patients and families, information about the Health Department’s programs and services, linkages to other local organizations, how to refer patients and families to services, and much more.

Establishing FHIL has been part of the Region’s Citizen’s Priorities Action Plan as a key initiative to enhance access to health information and services for residents in Halton. And because our public health nurses also work in the community, FHIL nurses can link you to the programs and services offered by many other agencies and organizations. FHIL allows the Health Department to be more inclusive, efficient and customer friendly.

So, to access the Family Health Information Line, simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000 and ask for the Family Health Information Line. You can also email one of the nurses at familyhealthinfo@halton.ca. To find out more about the line, visit www.halton.ca/fhil. Devon, Cindy, Nicole, Hilary, Kirsty, Andrea, and Tamara—are waiting to help you!

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton or on Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Healthy Smiles, Healthy Kids

Halton Region continually looks for innovative ways to provide better assistance and program supports to those who need it the most.  One of the commitments identified in the Citizen’s Priorities Action Plan is to implement and raise awareness of the Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) program, which provides financial assistance to families to take their children or youth (age 17 and under) for regular dental treatment. So far this year, through HSO, the Halton Region Health Department has already helped children from over 250 families across the region receive regular oral health care from an oral health professional.

HSO is about creating healthy smiles and healthy kids. All children in Halton deserve to have access to the health care they need, yet for some, regular dental care is not affordable. Oral health is a critical part of a child’s overall health. It helps with self esteem and sense of well-being, and affects growth and development.

The HSO program includes a full range of dental services including checkups, cleaning, fillings, x-rays and more to help prevent a problem or address a small issue before it becomes a big one. Teens can even register for the program themselves.

HSO is for members of a household with an Adjusted Family Net Income of $20,000 per year or below, who don’t have access to any form of dental coverage. Find out if you or your family qualify. Visit www.halton.ca/healthysmiles, or call Halton Region. Dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

If you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”