It’s Better at Home for local seniors

The Better at Home program enables local seniors to remain independent, but needs volunteers to help keep it going.

Ashcroft Volunteer Firefighters Dale Lyons (l) and Tyler Fitzpatrick (r) install a smoke detector as part of a joint initiative between the AVFD and Better at Home.

Ashcroft Volunteer Firefighters Dale Lyons (l) and Tyler Fitzpatrick (r) install a smoke detector as part of a joint initiative between the AVFD and Better at Home.

The Ashcroft “Better at Home” project is continuing to help seniors in Ashcroft and Cache Creek live independently in their own homes, while providing simple non-medical services such as light housekeeping or yard work, minor home repairs, grocery shopping, transportation to help people shop or get to appointments, and in winter a snow-shovelling service. It ensures that seniors continue to play an active part in the community, with the support and assistance they need to be able to live independently.

The program is designed for those aged 65+ who are able to stay in their own homes with a little assistance, says Program Coordinator Nancy Kendall. “We don’t come in and do big services; we just manage things that some people can’t do.” The program is funded by the provincial government through the United Way, which receives reports detailing who is using the service, who is volunteering, and how many are on the waiting list.

“We’re almost to capacity with housework,” said Kendall, noting that more volunteers are needed. She stresses that volunteers can be very specific about what they can do, and how often they do it. “If someone is only able to drive one person to one appointment a month, that would be great.” In addition to housework, yard work, and driving, Kendall says that volunteers are also needed to do “friendly visiting”: “Chat with someone, have a cup of tea, maybe play a game.”

Kendall underlined the importance of having volunteers, and those they help, register with Better at Home. “If you’re being a snow angel, and shovelling the driveways of a couple of elderly neighbours, that’s great. But please come and register yourselves with Better at Home. That way, when we send in reports, we’re showing the volunteers, the recipients, and the need in our area.”

Anyone who is interested in the program, either for him- or herself or for a family member, can contact the office for more information, even if they aren’t quite ready to use the service, said Kendall. “We can put your name on a waiting list, and call you when you’re ready. If at that time you’re still fine, that’s okay.” She said that waiting lists are also good, as they indicate that the service is being well utilized and is necessary.

Drivers are able to transport people in and between Ashcroft and Cache Creek. “We can’t promise a ride each time someone needs one, because we have to be sensitive to the needs of our volunteers. Not everyone can drive all the time. Lots of notice is appreciated, because trying to match people to drivers can be a challenge, especially on short notice.”

Better at Home also partners with other groups to help seniors in our community. Earlier this year the Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department worked with Better at Home to identify seniors who needed smoke detectors in their homes, then went and installed the detectors which had been donated to the fire department.

The Better at Home office is located at 405 Railway Avenue, and is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Kendall says that by phone at (250) 453-9911 is often the best way to reach her: “If I’m not in the office there’s an answering machine, and I always return calls.

“The main point of Better at Home is to get people, both volunteers and those needing assistance, involved. If we show need then the program will keep going.”

Barbara Roden