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Sherry & Her Dogs: Story of Financial Strain, Relationship Strain and Mental Health Strain

Sherry (not her real name) is a 66 year old female residing in small town close to an urban center. She is married with no children. Sherry has been unemployed for the past year related to her depression and PTSD. She was a member of the armed forces and has worked as a counsellor in the past. She is hoping to return to work soon; currently work opportunities are minimal and contract based. Sherry does not have a car, which limits her employment opportunities as public transit to the urban areas is not available. A temporary contract may be offered to Sherry in March, but will require relocation to Quebec.

Sherry has a tumultuous relationship with her husband of 10 years. He pays the rent and Sherry’s CCP is just enough to cover other basic expenses (food, meds and transportation). Sherry is concerned that if she separates from her husband, related to the stress in their relationship, she may need to move from her current residence of 10 years. Sherry has 3 dogs, she states are her children. She is unaware of any affordable housing that will support her dogs.

Sherry’s husband has a history of mental illness which may jeopardize her mental and emotional safety. Sherry feels trapped in her unhealthy relationship; she states she stays as it provides financial stability. She is struggling to make life changes related to the inability to access affordable housing and the potential loss of her dogs. Uncertainty of increased financial strain has decreased her ability to care for her own mental health as she attempts to re-enter employment.

Her primary care team plans to:

· Connect her with Alberta Supports to see if she would qualify for the rent supplement program, if she is estranged from her spouse.

· Provide local community support for application of emergency funding in case finds self without housing or being able to pay rent while transitioning.

How can the health system and community best assist Sherry? How might we support people like Sherry to continue living with their four legged family members? How might Sherry’s health be impacted? Share your story with us.

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