A program that helps seniors stay in their own homes has received a helping a hand itself. The District of Kitimat has decided to give Better at Home a $20,000 grant to allow them to assist more seniors.
Organizers of the program recently asked the district at the Sept. 5 regular council meeting for the money and council agreed to it. However, CAO Warren Waycheshen said councillors want to make sure organizers continue to seek out funding from other places.
“[Council] wants to ensure the organization is looking at other funding streams to continue with their funding,” he said. “Other communities get higher amounts. They would rather the agencies that normally pay for this to do that instead of council having to do it.”
The Better at Home Program is a province-wide initiative and is managed by the United Way of the Lower Mainland. The Kitimat Community Development Centre took on the local contract recently. The United Way gives them $65,000 to run the program and seniors are charged a fee for their services based on their income.
One of Better at Home’s Coordinators Jodi Johnson said the original amount of money isn’t enough to help everyone and she is thrilled with the extra funding from the district.
She said there will be an increase of 310 seniors in the next 10 years and Kitimat’s population is already sitting at 16 percent of those 65 and over. She said the program can help seniors stay at home and feel connected to the community.
“We do lawn care, house cleaning, grocery shopping and can also decrease the isolation, which can be a huge health risk, and help them feel like they are actively participating in their lives,” said Johnson.
She said the program also helps other organizations in town, including Northern Health.
“If you have a senior that doesn’t have medical needs but can’t be left alone, they can end up in the hospital. This way we can take that load off from Northern Health and the extended care facility. We also work with Northern Health on referrals to people that are being discharged and going home and [it helps] knowing we have a program in place ensuring they will be taken care of.”
Johnson added they have a waitlist of seniors looking for help and this extra funding is relieving stress already.
“We have a lady who was really struggling with her housekeeping, just very simple tasks but it was wearing on her emotionally. We were able to call her immediately on Wednesday morning [after council approved the funding] and start to arrange to have her on our housekeeping rotation schedule. I could hear the sigh of relief she had and she thanked us profusely,” said Johnson.
“That is why we do it, to make people feel comfortable in their own homes.”