Lifestyle

Supports for seniors to stay home longer

Better at Home provides services to help seniors stay independent. - Contributed
Better at Home provides services to help seniors stay independent.
— image credit: Contributed

The goal of the provincial government is now to keep seniors living comfortably in their own homes, with the proper supports, for as long as they are able.

Recently, Health Minister Terry Lake announced an additional $2 million in funding for United Way’s Better at Home program, which provides non-medical supports to help seniors remain independent in their homes for as long as possible.

“Seniors have given so much to our lives and our communities and government is committed to supporting them to remain in their homes and out of hospital as long as possible,” said Lake, who made the announcement at a symposium for seniors organized by ONCORE, a Better at Home service provider.

“The services provided by the Better at Home program reflect the ministry’s strategic focus on strengthening home and community care.”

To date, government has provided $22 million in funding to enhance and support the operations of the Better at Home program, which now operates in 60 communities throughout B.C.

One of those communities is Maple Ridge. Some of the local services include:

- Transportation services tailored to meet the needs of seniors who are living in their own homes and require transportation to medical appointments.  Shopping services encourage seniors to accompany volunteers on shopping outings.

- Visiting services provides friendly visits to seniors in their homes.

- Housekeeping services provides non-medical home support (i.e. cleaning, laundry).

- Handyman service offers affordable home maintenance to seniors, helping to provide a safe home environment.

Clients must be 65 years or older and reside in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows. They must be able to get in and out of the volunteer’s vehicle with limited assistance. Eligible individuals must register in the program. The cost to residents is a  sliding scale, based on the client’s ability to pay.

“Most seniors want to help themselves and others,” said seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie. “It is all of our responsibility to ensure they have the tools, supports and services to realize their full potential.”

Managed by United Way of the Lower Mainland, the Better at Home program services vary from community to community and are selected, along with service providers, through an engagement process that includes local seniors.

Examples of Better at Home services include friendly visits, light yard work, minor home repair, grocery shopping, light housekeeping and transportation to appointments.

“Our mandate is to help seniors remain independent and active in their communities,” said United Way of the Lower Mainland president Michael McKnight.

“We look forward to continuing to expand the Better at Home program.”

Better at Home is a key component of B.C.’s Seniors Action Plan, which commits to ensuring improved access to non-medical supports to help seniors stay in their own homes.

“The focus of today’s senior symposium is on age-friendly cities and rural communities and how we can all better support seniors where they live,” said ONCORE executive director Suzan Goguen.

“As a service provider, we see first-hand the difference the Better at Home program makes in people’s lives and with this increase in funding, it is evident that government understands the importance of allowing seniors to maintain their independence.”

To learn more about Better at Home and programs and for a full listing of participating communities, please visit: www.betterathome.ca.

For information about the Seniors Action Plan, please visit: www.seniorsbc.ca.

In Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows phone contacts are Joanne at 604-467-6911extension 206 or Diana at 604-467-6911, extension 232. By email: jleginus@comservice.bc.ca or dvivian@comservice.bc.ca.

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