Judy Cobus: Building a healthier community for seniors

When Judy Cobus was in grade seven living in Renfrew, she volunteered as a candy striper at the local hospital, and it made her certain she wanted to work in health care.

This sparked Judy’s 33-year career in nursing that has brought her to numerous roles in various settings including cardiac critical care, primary care, palliative care, community care, education and to her current position managing Arnprior Regional Health’s Community Programs.

“I think once you see what is possible and all the different avenues that nursing can take you, you’re able to look at opportunities to shape the future of keeping seniors well at home and also active in their community,” reflected Judy.

Judy Cobus, Manager of Community Programs, ARH

A passion for an age-friendly community

Judy’s ARH role includes overseeing a wide range of services including the Seniors Active Living Centre (SALC), The Men’s Shed, Adult Day Program and Assisted Living. What they all have in common is that they’re key ingredients to an age-friendly community through their focus on improving seniors’ health and wellness.

“The formal and informal support our clients receive through our various programs help them stay connected, stay active and stay healthy,” said Judy. “Without this support, we know clients would be at risk of losing their independence, and experience social isolation. In fact, the World Health Organization recognizes loneliness and isolation are serious public health risks that can increase chronic illnesses.”

Arnprior has been put on the map as an age-friendly community – the SALC is one of the most successful of its kind and the local Men’s Shed is the fastest-growing in Canada.

I certainly think that our success is due to our community supports and the fact our seniors want to give back and feel connected,” shared Judy. “We just signed the 700th participant to the SALC this week and that tells us we are doing a great job at meeting the needs of those in our own backyard.”

Personally rewarding work

For Judy, it’s the clients and caregivers’ feedback that reinforces the importance of the work the team is doing through the various services.

“I feel very fulfilled hearing how our staff have made a difference and that we’re meeting the needs of our clients and caregivers so that they can live independently at home. For example, through the ADP we’ve been really successful in providing the opportunity for caregivers to have respite while clients come together to have fun, participate in recreation and exercise and share a meal together.”

Top of mind for Judy is that the demand for these community services will continue to increase.

“Our services will need to grow to be able to keep up with the growing population of seniors. More and more people want to age in place, remain in their own homes. We need to look within our community to see how we can together plan to support caregivers and people living with cognitive decline as well as promote the health of seniors through programming to stay active and connected.”

Home in Arnprior

Judy was born in Renfrew and moved to Arnprior more than 25 years ago where she enjoys gardening, interior design, family time and her three-year-old Dachshund, Sadie.