It’s been a year since the Better At Home pilot program was launched in Nakusp.
The program is a provincial program, funded by the B.C. government and managed by the United Way of the lower mainland. It’s delivered in each community by local organizations.
For the Arrow Lakes region, it’s the Arrow and Slocan Lakes Community Services that’s delivering the program.
The goal of Better At Home is to help seniors who are living independently in their homes and stay independent for as long as possible. To help in this endeavour, the program offers services such as light housework and yard work, light maintenance, snow shovelling, and transportation for grocery trips or medical appointments.
“People know that living at home is better for seniors, so we try to help them live at home for as long as possible,” said Susan Kostuch, the Better At Home coordinator for the Arrow Lakes region. “We don’t get into deep cleaning, so we wouldn’t do things like clean out the fridge, or wash walls or windows, nothing like that. We’re just coming in and trying to take care of things for them so their day or their week is easier.”
About 30 seniors are signed up for Better At Home. Some use it regularly, while some use it only as needed.
The program is run partially through volunteers, and partially through paid staff. Housework and yard work are done by Better At Home staff, while home maintenance is done by a contractor. Snow shovelling, transportation and home visits are volunteer-based.
Kostuch said while there are volunteers taking part, Better At Home will never say no to more, especially if there is a big need for them, such as transportation. She said while there are transportation programs already in place, they sometimes cannot meet the needs of seniors.
“What I get requests for are things like trips to medical appointments or grocery shopping that don’t fit within the times that are set for public transportation,” she said. “In the winter, some of our seniors don’t feel as comfortable going out walking because a lot of them walk to the grocery store or to their appointments in the warmer months. But in the winter, with the roads being icy and the temperatures being colder, they don’t feel as comfortable, so it’s nice to have volunteers who can take them to a medical appointment, or grocery shopping.”
The snow shovelling program is also in need of volunteers, especially now that snow has begun to fall in earnest in the area.
Reaction to the program has been very positive. Seniors enjoy what is being offered and appreciate being able to live in their own homes for a longer period of time.
Kostuch thinks there is lots of potential for Better At Home to be even more important in Nakusp.
“I think as we’re developing, we’ll reach out to another group of seniors that we haven’t engaged with before, that weren’t using the programs we have,” she said “I think we’ll be able to reach a wider range of people the more that we get going.”
Kostuch would like to see the program extended beyond Nakusp to Arrow Park, Burton, Fauquier, and Edgewood. In fact, Better At Home is launching a new shopping program down the lake.
The first excursion will be on Tuesday, Dec. 20, and will be going down to Edgewood on the old medical bus. Priority will be given to seniors and those with medical appointments, but others are able to ride the bus as well.
Anyone looking for more information can call Susan Kostuch at 250-265-8747.