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MP speaks to Castlegar Seniors outreach and support

Alex Atamanenko MP
By Alex Atamanenko MP
June 18th, 2013

Castlegar Seniors Outreach & Support Pilot Project (SOS) is a partnership project with Castlegar and District Community Services Society with funding by the Columbia Basin Trust’s social Ggants program.

The pilot project provides several services and resource to seniors in the Castlegar area. These services include, but are not limited to:

1. Direct Advocacy: The top five issues are forms, income, health related, debt and housing. Over 25 different issues have been dealt with. This includes a large number of diverse topics including research, access/completion of forms, income applications and queries, debt support, tenancy/landlord issues, connections and information on municipal, provincial and federal services.

2. Outreach: This provides education and awareness to community groups about the SOS Program and free training (“Gatekeeper Program”) that teaches the types, signs and symptoms of elder abuse.  Outreach is also provided to individual seniors who may be isolated or lonely, through telephone calls offering a connection and other supports.  A series of eight “FYI Cards” (in a senior friendly format) were created for seniors and are being distributed.

3. Resource library:  ensuring a multitude of printed information regarding seniors health, services and supports is readily available.

The purpose of this pilot project is to determine needs within the senior population for these services as well as other needs that arise. Nearing the end of the Pilot Project, almost 300 direct contacts were made with clients in 2 days/week over 6 months. Another 150 hours of research has been provided by our practicum student, Nicole.

Those working on the project found that much more time is required per file than was anticipated, as most often there are multiple issues which are complex and multileveled. Almost all files required over 5 visits with many being over 20 visits.

According to Becky Quirk of the Advocacy Centre, “The Seniors Outreach and Support Pilot Project was immediately helpful to me in doing my poverty-focused advocacy work in Castlegar. Although some of our work and clientele overlap, the SOS Pilot Project can spend the additional time some senior clients need (particularly those with dementia issues), to address their problems.”   

Castlegar Mental Health and Substance Use Elder Services is another supportive referral source that sees the importance of this project:

“Such unique programs reduce vulnerability allowing seniors to maintain a strong sense of independence. Seniors are an integral part of community – let’s help reduce the barriers that seniors experience in our community.”    

Castlegar and District Community Services (CDCSS) also sees the value of the continuation of this service.  According to one staff person, “Whenthe SOS program started, I can honestly say that in all my 18 years with CDCSS, I have never seen a program take off so fast. It is clearly obvious that there is a real need for this type of program.”

This pilot project has determined these services to be essential to our seniors. Currently much effort is being put in to seeking funding to sustain the program through fundraising, grants, businesses and corporations. To date $1,800 has been raised.

Please call for more info on the program, about how you can help, or to share an idea for sustaining the Seniors Outreach & Support (SOS) Program.  Contacts: Sandi McCreight, coordinator, 250-365-2104 Ext. 34 or by email soscastlegar@hotmail.com or Kristein Johnson, executive director, Castlegar Community Services 250-365-2103 Ext. 29, or by email, kristein.johnson@cdcss.ca.

I would like to congratulate Sandi and others for making the SOS Pilot Project available to seniors in our area.

Categories: GeneralOp/Ed

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