Terrace United Way welcomes 'better for seniors' program

A NEW program designed to help seniors live at home for as long as possible has come to the city.

The Better at Home program is designed to help seniors aged 65 and older live in their own homes longer by providing simple services done by local non-profit agencies.

Kristine Kofoed, community development and campaign officer for United Way of Northern BC, is excited about the program coming here.

I’m absolutely ecstatic that this program is being rolled out in the northwest,” she said.

First thing is to find a coordinator for Terrace and Kitimat to consult with stakeholders and groups to find out what’s wanted, put it into a report and select a service provider to undertake the program based on what is needed, she said.

That’s how we do things. We check with the community first,” said Kofoed.

Examples of services that could be provided include non-medical services such as light yardwork, shovelling snow, grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions.

The chosen service provider will be paid to have people do these tasks.

People haven’t requested the services but Kofoed thinks the government has given it some thought.

I think the government is realizing seniors are waiting in hospital for beds to open up in assisted living when they could easily be cared for at home with these non-medical services,” she said, adding seniors staying in their own homes is also more humane and cost-effective.

The amount of money the local program will receive will come from the $15 million provided by the provincial government to the United Way of the Lower Mainland and will be decided based on what the outcome of community consultations is and how much is needed to provide the Better for Seniors program here, said Ministry of Health spokesperson Kim Franklin.

The program is set up for the next three years, she added.

At the end of that time, likely the government will look at where the program is at and see if the service is still needed or needs any changes, said Franklin.

The Ministry of Health announced last week that the five community pilot program was completed and those communities have chosen service providers and start dates for their programs.

Terrace, Kitimat and Gitxsan are three of the 56 communities that are starting the program.

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