Seniors on the Coast will soon have more support to age in their own homes, thanks to the Better At Home program set to start this spring.
The program, which is an initiative of the Lower Mainland United Way, links volunteers and professionals with seniors in need to provide simple, non-medical support services.
United Way receives funding from the B.C. Ministry of Health to help set up the Better at Home programs, which will be available in 60 B.C. communities this year.
Services that will be available on the Coast include transportation, friendly visiting, grocery shopping, light housekeeping and yard work.
Some services will be provided by volunteers free of charge, while some will require seniors to pay on a sliding scale according to their income.
Sunshine Coast Community Services Society (SCCSS) was awarded the contract to run Better at Home on the Coast for the next two years as a pilot project.
“The funding is until the end of March 2015 and I think the hope is that it will demonstrate that it’s cost effective in terms of health spending, that it’s more preventative, and also I think it’s hoped that there will be better health outcomes,” said Vicki Dobbyn, executive director of SCCSS. “It’s not just about saving money, it’s about doing what so many seniors want to do. They want to be independent and they want to be in their own homes and it’s often these small things that make the difference.”
Dobbyn recently advertised for a project manager to oversee the program and once that person is in place a small advisory committee will be established. By March she plans to start recruiting and training volunteers for the program.
All of the legwork for Better at Home should be completed by the spring with a hopeful “late spring” launch date, Dobbyn said.
“It will be interesting then to see about referrals. It shouldn’t be a challenge. I think the biggest challenge is around balancing the limited resources of a pilot project with what the needs are in our community,” she said.
The program will be launched in two phases, with phase one seeing volunteer services of driving, friendly visiting and grocery shopping available in the spring. In the fall phase two will feature light housekeeping and yard work, which are the two services needing some form of payment and a professional’s help.
Once available, seniors can self-refer to Better at Home or be referred by a family member, physician or other service provider.
Find out more about Better at Home at www.betterathome.ca.