Transportation, housing, and having a “one stop shop” information portal about services for seniors were the top three areas identified as concerns in a recent survey of those aged 55+ conducted by the Village of Cache Creek. And a social gathering on December 7 will allow seniors to contribute more feedback, as well as ask questions and see a summary report of the survey results.
The survey was phase one of a three-phase project being funded by a $20,000 Age Friendly Community grant received by the Village. The Age Friendly Needs Assessment and Action Plan will see what the needs of seniors in the community are, which will allow the Village to develop actions and policies for the future and enhance the community from an age friendly perspective.
Maren Luciani—principal of Luciani Urban Planning and Design, which has been brought on board to assist with the plan—says that 119 surveys were returned, representing 21 per cent of those aged 55 and older in Cache Creek. “That’s an excellent response rate,” she says. “It would be pretty amazing for any community.”
She says that it was a team effort to get such a good response rate. The steering committee behind the plan got the word out, and people such as Yoriko Susanj at the Elizabeth Fry Society office in Ashcroft were able to sit and help some clients with the survey. People were also at the flu clinic in Cache Creek on November 8 to hand out the survey. “It helped us reach seniors where they would be.”
Cache Creek chief administrative officer Keir Gervais says that the partnership with Interior Health at the flu clinic helped to double the number of surveys they received. “It was a great approach.”
Luciani says that when the surveys were in, key themes were identified, and a summary report has been prepared for mayor and council (the report will also be made public). “We identified goals and actions. The next phase is to dig deeper and find out more information about the key themes, and the third phase will be to reveal the draft plan, and ask ‘Did we get it right, did we identify the needs?’”
Gervais says that some good news is that transportation and housing are both on council’s priority list for 2017/18. “Staff have been charged with looking into transportation options, and will be presenting a couple of options to council.” He says that as far as housing goes, the survey revealed that a general lack of housing, a lack of different types of housing, and a lack of affordable housing were all concerns.
“There’s a lack of available and affordable housing to allow Cache Creek seniors to age in place,” says Luciani. “A lot of people are thinking about the future, and what options there are to stay here in their final years. We’re looking at options, and the feasibility of seniors’ housing in Cache Creek will probably come out of the process.”
Jenny Green—a community health facilitator with Interior Health (IH)—says that “Health begins where we live, learn, work, and play. We need to look at factors that lead to better health, and we need to liaise between IH, the community, and local government.
“Transportation means you can get people out of social isolation, which leads to better mental health. And having safe, affordable housing is a key to health and wellbeing. Having pathways, walkways, benches, and lighting all ties into good health.”
Gervais says that the information portal is about services for seniors, and collecting information about those services in one place. “It’s things like not knowing who to call to do a plumbing job, or wanting to know what the different organizations are in the area that provide services for seniors. It would be very substantive about what’s available for seniors.”
Green agrees that something like this is needed. “We have to ensure that seniors know what services are available for them.”
Now that the results of the surveys have been collated, the second phase will start. It kicks off with a free social gathering for those aged 55+, who are invited to attend on December 7 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Cache Creek Community Hall. The gathering will also be open to service providers currently working with seniors, or those who want to look into providing such services.
“We heard lots of good information [in the surveys], but now we want to dig deeper,” says Luciani. “The gathering is a drop-in event; you don’t have to arrive at 9 a.m. We’re looking for additional information on key themes in the surveys.” Refreshments and music are included, and more information will be provided at the gathering. Attendees can get the summary survey report, which will also be on the Village’s website.
Luciani says that one thing that came out of the survey was that people like the small town feel. “They like the people and the friendly community, but they’re looking for opportunities to age in place.”
“Seniors’ ability—or willingness—to stay in Cache Creek is closely tied with transportation and housing,” says Gervais. “We’re pleased about having lots of feedback about how people love Cache Creek, but there are changes and tweaks needed to make the Village more liveable for seniors.”