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Seniors palliative care, technology programs receive federal funding

Two Sunshine Coast organizations are benefitting from federal funding through the New Horizons for Seniors Program.
N.Seniors Money
Elana Robinson, executive director for the Sunshine Coast Hospice Society (top right), speaks at a funding announcement, held virtually on social media.

Two Sunshine Coast organizations are benefitting from federal funding through the New Horizons for Seniors Program.

Sunshine Coast Community Services Society received $25,000 for its Connect Through Technology project, allowing the organization to buy devices and software for phone, in-home and online support to assist with “the social participation and inclusion of seniors,” according to a release from West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country MP Patrick Weiler’s office.

The Sunshine Coast Hospice Society will use the $25,000 it received for a pilot project for a palliative care day program for seniors that focuses on “ensuring some of the most isolated seniors, those who are grieving, and dying and caregiving, have a place to connect with others who are walking the same path at the same time of life,” said Hospice executive director Elana Robinson during the April 7 announcement, hosted virtually on social media by Weiler. 

The day program will be created by a consultant and led by hospice volunteers, many of whom are seniors. They will lead programs such as music therapy and legacy reflection projects and will help people access government programs and services.

Programs will be offered in small groups or online, depending on public health guidelines, up to three days a week, and the society plans to recruit young adult volunteers to assist with programming. Clients who can’t attend in person will be provided a tablet and materials.

Robinson said the move to virtual programming and care during COVID-19 posed a challenge for “those who are socially, physically and technologically isolated.”

“Our vision is the day program becomes an essential part of palliative continuing care on the Sunshine Coast,” she said. In an email to Coast Reporter, Robinson said the organization will be looking for more government funding or donations where needed, “and if the pilot is successful we will source ongoing funding and support.”

Nine projects across the riding received a total of $185,000 from the program, which was launched in 2004 to improve seniors’ health and prevent social isolation.

Demand for the program funding was high enough to be included as a community request by MP Patrick Weiler in his March report to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland as part of pre-budget consultations.

Weiler reported communities asked that the federal government “continue to invest in popular and effective programs like the New Horizons for Seniors Program.”

He also reported “strong advocacy” for core funding for seniors planning tables, national standards tied to funding for long-term, home and community care, more money and programs to support informal caregivers, and to guarantee “long-term retirement income security for low-income seniors who quality for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.”