Seniors’ Needs Report
By Dave Price
It has been a while since I submitted an article, (a situation the editor can attest to). It has been a very busy period, in both my personal and my work life.
It has not, however, been an idle time for the Task Force. Some of the current focus is on improving our working relationship with BC Housing Management Commission. Malachy Tohill, the Regional Director for BCHMC, attended one of the Task Force meetings to discuss a number of concerns at the Hartford Court Seniors Housing complex. He has agreed to arrange certain improvements and is anxious to work more closely with the community. He also expressed a desire to have a local group manage the complex, a situation that would be a possibility when the current management contract expires in 2015.
Another project currently in the works is an application for grant funds from the United Way. A successful application would see us able to enhance both the Snow Angels and Yard Maintenance programs and provide some youth employment in the process during “out of school” periods. It would also allow for the creation of a Light Housekeeping service for those who are developing limitations that make caring for their homes a challenge. This would ease the difficulties faced by Northern Health in attempting to acquire and retain Home Support staff.
With the support of Ducks Unlimited, and the Tumbler Ridge Lions Club, WNMS will be improving the longer trail at Bullmoose Marshes to make it easier for seniors, or others with disabilities, to enjoy the wonders of the area. This will be in addition to the incredible, wheelchair accessible boardwalk that was put in place on the shorter trail last year. Work on the longer trail has already commenced. These are just three current initiatives but the Task Force always has a full agenda and continues to meet every second Monday.
On another note, I’m sure that many of you are aware that Gloria and I have put our house up for sale with the idea of moving closer to family. What may be less known is that, whether we move or not, I will be leaving my position as Seniors’ Needs Coordinator in a graduated fashion over the next three months.
The Task Force has accomplished an amazing number of things in the five years of its existence. We have bylaws that allow for modifications of homes related access, more automatic doors on buildings, wheelchair ramps, better handicapped parking, and regular air quality testing to name just a few.
We have worked with businesses to improve access to retail outlets and provide handicapped washrooms. We have created seniors’ support programs such as Meals on Wheels, Snow Angels, Yard Maintenance, and Firewood provision. We have worked with industry to ameliorate the impact of their businesses on the elderly and infirm, and government to provide a wider variety of services.
We have collaborated with the Health Unit in working with Northern Health to find innovative solutions to service shortages, and have worked with local organizations to improve inclusion of seniors into the many activities in the area. We have encouraged good health for our aging population through a fitness park and a blood pressure awareness program……and the list goes on.
There is still lots that can be done and I wish the Task Force well in their ongoing endeavours. For my part, I have been proud to be a part of it, and it has been an honour to work with a Task Force, appointed and supported by the district, and peopled by volunteers who have been so dedicated to ensuring that Tumbler Ridge becomes, and remains, a community where its citizens can “age in place”.