“Transit is a real thorn in our side.”
So says Nancy Kendall, Program Coordinator for the Ashcroft/Cache Creek Better At Home (BAH) Program. It’s based on the idea is that seniors are happier, and healthier, in their own homes, and tries to assist that by pairing volunteers to seniors. The volunteers do everything from light housekeeping, minor repairs, and yard work to friendly visits, snow shovelling, and transportation; and it’s this last part that is a challenge.
“We always need volunteers, mostly to drive,” says Kendall. Although the program serves seniors in Ashcroft and Cache Creek, she has no drivers from the latter community. “It would be great if we had some drivers in Cache Creek.” The 12 she does have, many of whom are seniors themselves, get paid nothing for gas, making it a challenge to get people to and from Cache Creek.
Kendall says that she promotes the community bus whenever she can. “It’s wonderful. There’s room on there for a wheelchair or walker, and the driver will assist people from their door to the bus. Just let them know you need assistance when you book the service.”
The bus goes from Clinton to Ashcroft to Kamloops and back on Mondays, and between Clinton and Ashcroft on Wednesdays and Fridays. Kendall also notes that the bus is available on Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 1:00 to 3:30 for any residents of Ashcroft, Boston Flats, and Ashcroft Manor who want to use it.
People can use it to go shopping, get their hair done, or just visit a friend in town for tea; all it costs is a toonie. Kendall has spoken with a local hairdresser, who says she’d be happy to accommodate seniors who wanted to get their hair done on Wednesdays or Fridays.
“If Better At Home clients could use the community bus, it would take a lot of pressure off our drivers,” says Kendall, noting that BAH’s priority is transporting people to medical appointments or taking them to the store for groceries. She adds that people need to use the community bus. “It’s a case of use it or lose it.”
The goal of the BAH program is to help people as much as possible. Light housekeeping is a major part of the program, and Kendall has nothing but praise for the volunteers who help out in this area. “I think we have the best housekeepers of all the Better At Home programs I know of. They’re very compassionate and caring ladies.” She notes that the housekeepers have all been vetted and have had criminal record checks, and that they’re insured and have Worker’s Compensation coverage through BAH.
Kendall acknowledges the support of the Ashcroft and District Healthcare Auxiliary, which recently gave a very generous donation to the program. The money will be used to help fund a Seniors’ Symposium Kendall plans to hold later this year.
The program is funded through the United Way (UW), and Kendall says that the Michael Smith Foundation gathers information about what services are being used and reports back to UW. “The participation of clients and volunteers is huge in order to help the sustainability of the program,” says Kendall, because the number people participating is important when reports are submitted.
“The lovely thing about a small town is neighbours helping neighbours, and we know that a lot of people help neighbours who are seniors. It would be great if those providing or using these sorts of services would register with Better At Home for no charge. That way we can record it all, to show the need for the service.”
Users pay on a sliding scale based on income, meaning some people pay nothing for the service. Kendall says that anyone interested in taking part in the program—whether as a client or volunteer—should call her to make an appointment. “I’m happy to come and see them.” She adds that family members are welcome to come and chat with her about Better At Home services for a family member. “Together we can work things out. We’re here to help as much as possible.”
To contact Better At Home, either as a client or potential volunteer, call (250) 453-9911. To contact Yellowhead Community Services about booking the community bus, call toll-free 1-855-359-3935.