Vital People: Watching out for our seniors

A new program seeks to enable older adults to live in their homes for as long as possible by addressing seniors’ isolation and food security.

The Seniors Engagement project, hosted by the Beacon Community Association, is meant to enhance the not-for-profit organization’s range of community services for the care and support of seniors in the Saanich Peninsula.

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The new program will combine the Seniors Lunch with a new Neighbourhood Chats service.

The Seniors Lunch, which takes place once a month, brings together 50 isolated seniors with 25 volunteers for a nutritious meal, socialization, entertainment and information.

“It is an opportunity to connect and inform them about local programs and services,” said Glenys Cavers, director of the Thrift Shop and the SHOAL Centre.

The seniors are also given an extra meal to take home for another day.

With funding by the Victoria Foundation, the seniors engagement project will, from March until December this year, also now include a Neighbourhood Chats component.

An outreach worker will be criss-crossing the Saanich Peninsula for the next seven months with a goal of connecting with seniors living in rental units and condominiums.

“Although we have welcomed clients to our facilities, this is the first time we have gone out to find them, rather than waiting for them to come in to see us,” said Cavers.

The outreach worker will attempt to reach seniors living in 48 multi-unit buildings in the region. The worker will liaise with strata councils and property managers to set up information sessions and identify seniors living independently.

The outreach worker will be able to refer seniors to supports, help them with groceries, connect them with health professionals or arrange for transportation to and from appointments.

The aim is to provide isolated seniors with supports and access to healthy meals. The goal is an increase in the quality of life and a decrease in isolation.

“It’s a safety net,” said Cavers. “We want to give them all the support they need so that can keep living independently — and safely.”

Beacon Community Services provides a range of health, social and volunteer services for clients on Southern Vancouver Island. It has been selected by the Vancouver Island Health Authority as its sole provider of home support services for southern Vancouver Island and the outer Gulf Islands.

Its SHOAL Centre provides assisted living apartments, a drop-in activity centre, public dining room and ongoing workshops and activities.

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