With 15 new programs, and now over 25 Better at Home programs delivering services across the province, 2014 is off to an extraordinary start!
January marks a new year, perhaps a new you, and a new round of Better at Home funded communities across the province. Joining the Better at Home team are: Campbell River, Nanaimo, North Okanagan including Vernon, Port Alberni, Powell River, Salt Spring Island, Sea to Sky including Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton and Mount Currie, four additional Vancouver programs: Hastings-Sunrise, Kitsilano, Kerrisdale-Oakridge -Marpole, Vancouver South, Victoria, and three First Nation communities: Stó:lō Territory, Gitxsan and Cowichan Tribes. This brings the total to 53 Better at Home programs.
With many programs diligently hiring their Program Coordinator(s) and developing their programs, Better at Home knows the importance of properly preparing new staff for the exciting road ahead. In addition to numerous training sessions on reporting, dealing with the media, and teleconferences where coordinators across the province chat about common topics, over 20 in-depth orientation sessions for coordinators have occurred, allowing new staff to learn the basics of the Better at Home project and how to grow a successful program.
Leslee Scott, previously with the Western Institute of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, attended the Central Okanagan Better at Home Community Meeting in Kelowna on November 23rd, 2013. Adding to the 45 attendees, 23 of whom were self-identified seniors, two interpreters were also present to sign. This is the first time a Better at Home community meeting has had official sign language interpreting, helping to create a more accessible environment for people with hearing loss.
For Deaf and Hard of Hearing seniors signing support is crucial, especially when they are at a presentation for a program that is aimed at keeping them longer at home and connected to their community.
Approximately 10% of the general population have mild to profound hearing loss. Because changes of hearing loss increase with age, this number may be even higher in the Central Okanagan given the elevated number of retirees, and the influx of baby boomers to the area. By age 60 approximately 50% of seniors have some sort of hearing loss.
Attending the meeting with Scott was Paul Landry, President of the Okanagan Valley Association for the Deaf. He stated it was very nice to be able to attend and understand what was happening. Having the interpreters was much appreciated as it enabled him to participate in the small group, which benefited the other participants as well.
“Deaf Seniors enjoy meeting others just as much as anyone else”, Scott states. “If they have some means of communication, such as signing, they would be happier and more comfortable being at home and receiving supports. The good news is that the Okanagan College is putting on sign language courses again in Spring 2014, so hopefully those in the Health and Education fields will take some classes.” Scott urges.
Providing sign language interpreters during a Better at Home community meeting is a first step in a continuous approach towards making the program accessible and inclusive to all seniors, and opening doors to otherwise sheltered seniors.
To find out more about the Western Institute of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing: http://www.widhh.com/