Bridging the divide: Better at Home supporting diverse seniors in Burnaby

December 9th, 2014

Michele Wilson, Program Coordinator - Burnaby Better at Home

Stock photo – Afghan woman

Roya* is a proud 92 year old woman from Afghanistan who came to Canada as a refugee. Roya had absolutely no family support in Canada, and very few friends. She felt extremely isolated, partly because her Afghan dialect is quite rare. This made communication with neighbours and people in her community very challenging. This communication barrier also made it very difficult for the Burnaby Better at Home staff who needed to find someone to effectively communicate Roya’s needs and help bridge barriers in cultural expectations and understanding.

To help Roya get access to the support she so desperately needed, Burnaby Better at Home worked closely with a number of agencies, including Burnaby Home Health through the Fraser Health Authority. Burnaby Better at Home then called upon MOSAIC to provide an Outreach Worker to translate Roya’s needs back to Home Health and Better at Home. That connection with the Outreach Worker was essential in giving Roya a sense of comfort and trust. As a result of perseverance, patience and good communication among the various agencies, we received the following feedback from Roya’s Occupational Therapist at Burnaby Home Health: Burnaby Better at Home is the only success we have had with this client. Every other support we have tried to put into place has failed over the past years.

In Roya’s case, and countless others, Burnaby Better at Home has experienced great satisfaction in our work with the ethnic community. Recognizing the multi-cultural population in our community, Burnaby Better at Home set out to partner with MOSAIC as a key strategy to better serve our diverse residents. MOSAIC provides Outreach Workers to translate and assist with client intake and home visits, check multi-lingual voicemail messages and even assist in promoting Better at Home through various ethnic newspapers. As with cases like Roya’s, communication and connectedness can make all the difference to an isolated senior.

It is our belief that with the right people, perseverance and patience, there is the opportunity for a positive outcome in any situation. We truly believe that had the community not all pulled together to help Roya, she would have most certainly fallen between the cracks.

*Names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of Better at Home clients