Support coming for youth, seniors at risk

A group of stakeholders in the region are taking steps to improve the quality of life for seniors and youth at risk.

A group of stakeholders in the region are taking steps to improve the quality of life for seniors and youth at risk, with concrete actions beginning to take place.

Health services administrator Sheila Gordon-Payne was at Port Edward council on Feb. 10 to talk about the efforts of the Healthy Communities working group, which includes representation from not just Northern Health and local governments but organizations such as the North Coast Transition Society, the RCMP, the Salvation Army and the Prince Rupert School District.

On the seniors side of things, Gordon-Payne said those involved had a common goal based on feedback from both the elderly and their caregivers in the community.

“The seniors working group, their whole focus is how seniors stay independent in our community. My work and all of our discussion with seniors has confirmed for us that the majority of seniors in our community want to stay in their homes. That is their number one ask for us, it’s not ‘build me somewhere to live’ it’s ‘give me what I need so I can stay at home’.They are also looking at things like going over advanced care planning with seniors and members of the community,” she said, adding a well-known outside organization has stepped forward to help out.

“There is a Better At Home program underway now in the community supported by the United Way … this is an organization that is able to provide the types of services health authorities can’t provide. In home support we can do certain things to support you, but we can’t drive you for social visits, we can’t get your groceries. Years ago they could do that, but now this group is providing those types of services for seniors. Some of what they are working on now is just going to visit seniors and keeping them company.”

With others in Prince Rupert working to help youth, Gordon-Payne said those gathered at the table decided the best way to help was through a financial contribution.

“We started with a $20,000 grant that was to focus on youth. We have just made a motion that we will turn over $17,500 of that to a youth working group that has partners with School District 52, has partners with the RCMP and has partners in the civic centre,” she said.

“It revolves totally around what youth said they wanted, what they want it to look like, and the primary objective has been safe spaces for youth. The feedback was gathered through surveys that were completed at Charles Hays Secondary School, Prince Rupert Middle School and at the civic centre.”

The Healthy Communities working group is also reaching out to other organizations to see what their ideas are to help youth and seniors, with money being made available for seed grants to get people started.

“We have had five expressions of interest and have given out three $3,000 grants,” she said, noting other applications are under review.