The Nakusp Seniors Association wants YOU

Northern B.C. study investigates impact of non-medical resources on seniors

Marilyn Boxwell discusses a coalition of Northern B.C. and Provincial organizations are partnering in a new project.

Studies show that having access to non-medical social support services including transportation and various community-based leisure time opportunities directly affects the lives of older persons, especially those over the age of 65 years. One of the greatest benefits is that of helping seniors to remain independent, and living safely in their own home to the maximum extent possible.

Although this may seem obvious to many of us at first glance, those engaged in scientific study indicate that research-based evidence on the subject is actually quite limited. In order to address this situation effectively, a coalition of Northern B.C. and Provincial organizations are partnering in a new project designed to improve the quality of life and health of seniors living in B.C. northern communities. The first demonstration project is already underway in Prince George, where in excess of 100 seniors are now receiving transportation, housecleaning and social outreach services, all of which are administered by Prince George Council of Seniors who have been given a one-time grant for this purpose. Additional partnerships with community organizations in Prince Rupert and Fort St. John are also being actively considered.

Initial partners in this demonstration project include the B.C. Home and Community Care Research Network, the UNBC School of Social Work, Northern Health’s Primary Health Care Integrated Health Network and Home and Community Care, the United Way of Northern B.C., Providence Health Care (Vancouver) and the School of Population and Public Health at UBC.

The project intention is to facilitate researchers who will measure how a range of Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) affect the lives of seniors, their families, community organizations and also the volunteers who provide the services as well as the health and social agencies who refer clients.

The goal will be achieved through a combination of interviews, questionnaires and  group discussions. Researchers will also examine seniors’ health status and quality of life amongst respondents. Also measured will be the utilization of health services, volunteer workload and service delivery costs as well as to seek involvement from seniors, family caregivers and the community partners.

It is anticipated that the research study results will assist decision makers in planning for and putting into place, effective, efficient and sustainable IADL services to assist seniors in remaining in their homes for as long as possible and also benefit from a healthier and higher quality of life as they age.

I wish to thank research consultant Janice Murphy, PhD for bringing to my attention as well as the other members of Connected Communities, details of the demonstration study project.