Transportation, home care services and rental affordability for seniors are concerns province-wide, said Isobel Mackenzie, B.C. Seniors’ Advocate in her 2017 report. (Black Press file)

Housing for Chilliwack seniors among key concerns

But Chilliwack is also working on a unique approach to home health for seniors

B.C. Seniors’ Advocate Isobel Mackenzie is sounding the alarm about rental housing affordability and home care services for seniors in her third annual report.

Some of the same issues raised in the Monitoring Seniors’ Services 2017 report by the provincial advocate are “consistent with areas of concern expressed by the seniors we support,” said Coletta Holmes, executive director of Chilliwack and District Seniors’ Resource Centre.

“But there is work being done to change this.”

Chilliwack may be ahead of the curve in some respects.

“A new, innovative approach” to home health for seniors is being established locally with a team-based approach under the Chilliwack Healthier Community umbrella.

“I have had personal experience with this new program and it was so much better than the previous system,” said Holmes.

Also the City of Chilliwack has made a commitment to addressing some of the most challenging issues with an upcoming a study of housing affordability for seniors, to be undertaken in 2018.

“Right now they are developing the terms of reference in partnership with the Healthier Task Team,” Holmes noted.

Transportation continues to be one of the “greatest concerns” especially with most medical specialists located beyond the Eastern Fraser Valley, she stated.

“In a recent teleconference hosted by the Office of the Seniors’ Advocate, agencies reported that many older adults who struggle with transportation concerns are in fact drivers, however will not drive on the highway or outside their community or after medical tests or procedures.”

Rental affordability, along with transportation woes and home care inadequacies were covered extensively in Mackenzie’s 2017 report, but there was a hint of good news as well.

“This is now the third year my office has published this report and we are seeing some very meaningful trends that can tell us whether we are heading in the right direction in delivering the supports and services that are key to assisting seniors to maintain independence and enjoy good health,” said B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie.

There were some red flags.

“There is a continued decrease in home support service and adult day programs as well as an increasing lack of affordability for senior renters.

“These results should also be of concern to the government as lack of support in these areas will drive some seniors into residential care which is a more costly intervention and one that is least preferred by seniors,” wrote Mackenzie in her report.

“We know there are up to 15 per cent of seniors living in residential care who could live in the community with proper supports.”

READ MORE: Seeking senior solutions

Growth in the seniors’ population is on track with projections as the number of people in the province 65+ grew by 32,307 to 18.4% of the population, as opposed to 17.9% last year.

The advocate’s report looked at 25 programs and services for seniors, and measured performance, year over year.

READ MORE: Here are the 2016 results

“Part of what this report highlights is the significant number of services that are available to assist seniors, ensuring they keep pace with demand and that they are easily accessible is equally important. Reviewing our performance on an annual basis is an important measure of our success,” concluded Mackenzie.

The full report is at www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca


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