Help for seniors in the works
There's a new program in the works that will help New Westminster seniors still living at home with some tasks, like light housekeeping, yard work and transportation.
"One of the great strengths of the program is it's community based and community driven. New Westminster seniors and service providers can decide what works for them within the Better at Home structure," said Mariam Larson, a local gerontologist hired to develop the program in New Westminster.
Better At Home is a program funded by the B.C. Health Ministry and delivered by the United Way. It's designed to help low-income seniors get help with non-medical tasks. That could include friendly visits, help with groceries, minor home repairs, transportation, light yard work and housekeeping, depending on the needs of the community. Volunteers typically deliver the services, and seniors pay, based on their income. The fees go back into the program to support others who are using the services. The program is meant to help low-income seniors without taking business away from the private sector.
Help with bathing and medication is not offered, as those are taken care of by community health workers, and non-profit groups like Meals on Wheels in Burnaby and New Westminster deliver pre-cooked meals.
"We know most seniors, if given the choice, would prefer to live independently as long as they can in their own homes, among friends and neighbours," said Michael McKnight, President and CEO of the United Way Lower Mainland.
So far, 18 sites have been named for the Better At Home program, including New Westminster, and the total should reach 60 over the next year. Larson, who also coordinates Voices of Burnaby Seniors, is hoping Burnaby will be named in the next round of participating communities.
On Tuesday, Nov. 27 United Way was scheduled to host a community presentation about the program in New Westminster, after The Record/NOW deadlines. At that meeting, Larson presented results from work she's done, finding out what local seniors need and identifying a possible agency to deliver the program in New Westminster. That agency can then apply for a maximum grant of $100,000 per year to run the program.
Larson said the program should be up and running in spring of 2013.