Eight senior serving agencies receive funding boost thanks to United Way

Greater Victoria has one of the country’s highest proportions of seniors over the age of 65, approximating 18 percent of the population. Many seniors experience extreme loneliness, isolation and malnutrition. With many on limited incomes, their physical, mental and emotional well-being is impacted and this has been compounded by COVID-19.

Thanks to funding by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, vulnerable seniors in the CRD will get some extra assistance. The United Way has granted funding to the below eight senior serving agencies throughout the region.

Alzheimer Society of BC

Adapted Programs and Services for Greater Victoria Families Affected by Dementia

This initiative supports seniors with dementia and their caregivers who are struggling with anxiety, loneliness, and isolation during this time of social distancing as their personal support systems, such as family, friends and in-home care, have been scaled back dramatically or stopped altogether. Support and Education Coordinators provide newly adapted programs and services to vulnerable seniors through an extension of hours for the province wide Dementia Helpline, check-in calls to more than 1,600 clients, and dementia education webinars for caregivers. Additionally, the Alzheimer Society is offering tele-support groups to provide caregivers with a safe space to share practical tips, express their feelings, and combat isolation by encouraging a sense of hope within the dementia support community.

Beacon Community Association

Beacon Community Association COVID-19 Response

By identifying a need in the non-profit sector for a food and meal delivery system to serve isolated seniors, United Way is partnering with Beacon Community Services to fund necessary infrastructure that will provide sourcing and distribution services including prepared meals and food hampers in the CRD. This coordinated approach will increase efficiencies and alleviate the pressure that is currently being shouldered by 14 seniors’ service agencies. This grant to Beacon Community Services will bolster food service to 1,000 meals per week. During the COVID-19 response, the meals will be deeply subsidized and provided on a sliding scale basis for those with the ability to pay.

Coordinated Meal Delivery

This initiative will follow the model of “Meals on Wheels” and provide healthy and nutritious meal drop-offs to vulnerable and isolated seniors in the CRD through a coordinated volunteer delivery program at no or low cost to the seniors.

CNIB – Victoria

CNIB Foundation COVID-19 Response

This initiative supports blind and partially sighted residents of Greater Victoria combat isolation, and barriers to essentials and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. CNIB teleconferences help inform seniors and their caregivers on available care options while assessing further needs for assistive technology in order to participate in programs and ensure that they are receiving groceries and life essentials. Through a check-in phone call, CNIB can recommend virtual Peer Mentorship programs and the Phone Mate program matches clients with a volunteer who will provide social chats as well as assist them in the pick-up and delivery of essential items such as meals or medications.

Eldercare Foundation

Stay Connected: Helping Long-term Care residents avoid social isolation during the global pandemic

This initiative supports seniors living in long-term care who have had family visitations, group therapy programs, and entertainment halted due to COVID-19, leaving them at high risk for social isolation, and mental and physical decline during the pandemic. Families of the seniors are struggling as well, being unable to interact face to face with their loved ones. Through the provision of smart phones and tablet computers to residents of five long-term care facilities in Greater Victoria, this project will help residents stay connected to online entertainment, exercise classes, and virtual music therapy programs, as well as  keeping them in virtual contact with their families.

James Bay New Horizons

Community Services: Keeping Seniors Healthy

This initiative supports more than 500 seniors who are members of James Bay New Horizons (JBNH) as well as a broader community of vulnerable seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through reassurance calls, the pick-up and delivery of fresh fruit, veggies, and meals to isolated seniors, and shopping and prescription pick-ups for bc211 clients, JBNH is working to keep seniors supported and connected while navigating the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

March of Dimes

Life After Stroke – Virtual Programming

This initiative is centered on the digitalization of March of Dimes’ traditional stroke program that provides physical activity, cogitative games/info, open discussion, and community navigation support. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the delivery of the sessions has had to adapt and is now offering virtual sessions mirroring the traditional in-person therapy. Because some program participants have less tech abilities than others or lack the necessary digital equipment, this project will offer on-on-one guidance to navigate, learn, and master their existing technology or provide the appropriate electronics such as tablets for individuals as needed. Additionally, a volunteer program will be implemented wherein tech-savvy high school volunteers provide technological support to stroke survivors so that they can access the needed online services and supports for social connection and engagement with their community.

Seniors Serving Seniors

Bringing Community to Seniors During COVID-19

This initiative will help support frail and vulnerable seniors needing extra support during the COVID-19 crisis. Seniors are referred to Seniors Serving Seniors from Island Health or other organizations in town and many have no family or friends close by to assist them with grocery shopping and medication deliveries. Through this project, 10-15 volunteers will assist with these errands and purchase essentials for clients using pre-loaded VISA cards. For seniors who are unable to pay due to a fixed or low-income, the grocery purchases will be offered to them free of charge.

The Galiano Club

Together, Galiano Eats

The Galiano Club Food Program has currently halted event based programs due to COVID-19, but are continuing to produce frozen meals and distribute them to seniors, many of whom rely on the meals to remain in the community. Additionally, this initiative supports the Galiano Food Bank with weekly food hampers being distributed to seniors in isolation or quarantine. Hamper distribution is being provided through neighbourhood volunteers, who also take requests and pass the requests to Food Program staff. Many residents are low income and many work in the currently closed service industry. As the crisis continues, more seniors are becoming reliant on frozen meals and the Food Bank making the continuation of these services essential to the community.