I would like to send out a big thank you to all the seniors and other interested parties who came out on Nov. 30 to the community meeting at the South Main Seniors Drop-in Centre for the United Way, Better at Home project. A total of 101 people (over 80 per cent seniors) participated; shared their personal experiences and provided input and creative ideas to find solutions for a number of challenges.
Better at Home is a program that helps seniors with simple day-to-day tasks so that they can continue to live independently in their own homes and remain connected to their communities. It is not yet operating in Penticton but my job, as community developer, is to determine, with community input, which of the services (light housekeeping, grocery shopping, transportation, light yard work, friendly visiting, simple home repairs, snow shovelling) are needed in this community, what the priorities are; which non-profit agency is best suited to deliver this program and demonstrate community readiness.
Although all services are needed and welcomed, what we heard, loud and clear, is that transportation is top priority in this community. For those of us who can jump in our cars and get where we need to go in a matter of minutes, we don’t always think about how much our independence is connected to our ability to drive. It concerns me when an elderly woman tells me that she is avoiding seeing her doctor because of the difficulty of access to transportation. Although HandyDART provides a crucial service to many, it does not have the capacity to meet the growing needs of this population. Our total senior population has risen by 6.5 per cent in the last 10 years. However, the number of residents over the age of 90 has increased by 147 per cent.
I am encouraged by the community support including the interest of potential volunteers when this program is up and running. As I come to the end of this contract and write my final report, I am proud to be a part of the community of Penticton and look forward to the implementation of Better at Home services in the new year.
Also, kudos to Carol and her team in the kitchen who worked all morning to prepare a home-style lunch, from scratch. Your teamwork and dedication is much appreciated.
Myrna Tischer, community developer
United Way Better at Home Program