Elsie’s story

October 9th, 2012

Eighty-year-old Elsie lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment in Dawson Creek, BC. And that’s where she’d like to stay.

“I like my freedom,” Elsie says. But the fact that she doesn’t drive and doesn’t want to bother her children made leaving home difficult especially during the bitterly cold Peace River winters.

That changed in February 2011 when she became involved in the Community Action for Seniors’ Independence (CASI) program. Since then, she has received assistance with housekeeping and is visited weekly by Kathy (see photo), who takes her out shopping and provides friendly companionship.

“I like to go shopping, going around to see new clothes, getting groceries, just being out in the world,” Elsie says.

Now seniors like Elsie in communities across the province will be able to take advantage of Better at Home, the expansion of the CASI program, which helps seniors to live in their own homes longer.

As part of Improving Care for B.C. Seniors: An Action Plan, the BC Government provided United Way of the Lower Mainland with $15 million to establish the Better at Home program. The program offers seniors non-medical services such as housekeeping, grocery shopping, friendly visits and transportation to appointments and will be rolled out in approximately 60 sites across the province.

The Better at Home program is based on the CASI pilot project that United Way carried out in five BC communities, including Dawson Creek, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and local non-profit agencies.

“We know that most seniors, if given the choice, would prefer to live independently as long as they can be in their own homes, among friends and neighbors,” says Michael McKnight, President and CEO of United Way of the Lower Mainland.

“This program allows that opportunity for seniors who are healthy overall, but require modest help with a few tasks. We want to prevent isolation and loneliness, especially among those who are most vulnerable, while helping seniors maintain their quality of life,” he says.

The services provided by CASI and the Better at Home program are supplemental to those provided by community health workers, such as personal hygiene assistance and help with medical needs or moving around.

“This program is very important to me because I like my independence,? Elsie says. ?I think a lot of seniors need this type of help and appreciate it.”

Read about a success story from Maple Ridge.