Services for seniors
Satellite office opens in Spaniard’s Bay
After two years of persistent effort, an information office for older adults is now up and running in Spaniard’s Bay.
The Baccalieu Trail Seniors Resource Satellite Office is located in the Spaniard’s Bay town hall (at the left side of the building).
Cathy Kleinwort, Advisory Committee chairwoman, says the committee received funding from Services Canada to open the office and begin the pilot project.
“On March 23 we began the work of securing information from different government services and already we have a lot of brochures and we’ve gotten a few calls,” Kleinwort said last week.
Marie Ryan, coordinator and Shelley Grant, office assistant have been hired for a one-year term.
“We’re so fortunate to have them,” Kleinwort said. “They work so well as a team and it takes a big load off my mind.”
Seniors, or those concerned about seniors, can call in with questions about things like accessing home support services; where to get help with home repairs; problems dealing with government departments for pensions and income tax; or concerns about issues like trans- portation or elder abuse. The toll free number is 1-800-563-5599.
For the moment the number will connect directly to the Seniors Resource Centre in St. John’s and messages will be relayed to the Spaniard’s Bay office.
“Follow-up calls are made to ensure the callers obtain the needed assistance,” Kleinwort said. “In time we will have volunteer seniors and peer advocates answering the information line. Seniors who call in find it helpful to talk to someone who has had similar life experiences. They offer a listening ear and provide information and support.
“Anything that comes in through this office is confidential,” Kleinwort added.
In about five years, it’s estimated 50 per cent of the population on the Trinity Conception region will be senior citizens.
Kleinwort says in June 2006 an M-RON (Mariner Resource Opportunities Network) symposium looked at the needs of the growing population of seniors in the area.
At that time Kleinwort was the senior sector director with M-RON and is still with the board, but not in the same capacity. She was also involved with community care programs on the mainland before moving to Spaniard’s Bay eight years ago.
“(M-RON) did a transportation study in late 2007,” she said. “And, we discovered transportation isn’t needed because seniors are able to depend on their family, friends and neighbours.”
One perceived need to come out of the symposium was a program called Friendly Visiting.
“We want to get volunteers to visit shut-ins, sit and have a cup of tea,” Ryan explained. “The time is so long when you’re shut in.”
Another goal is to set up a Reassurance program.“That’s where we would get volunteers to phone to check on seniors who live alone,” said Kleinwort. “If we don’t get a call back within a certain period then we get hold of the first name on that senior’s contact list, so someone can check on them.”
The centre is also involved in the Vial for Life program, which provides vital information to emergency responders if a senior is unable to communicate with medics.
The satellite office isn’t affiliated with M-RON, Kleinwort pointed out.
“We’re under the umbrella of the Seniors Resource Centre for Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John’s). The satellite is a pilot project.”
A part of that pilot project will be drafting up a set of guidelines for access by other areas of the province that might want to set up similar satellite offices.
Ryan says once the basics, like gathering information and setting up databases are taken care of, the centre will start seeing some results.
“We’ve had excellent response from municipalities, seniors clubs, churches; they can’t wait for us to start — the help that’s pouring in is unbelievable,” she said.
Ryan plans to visit all seniors clubs, Legions and other organizations in Trinity and Conception Bays to determine the needs and wants of older adults in the whole area.
She’s already paid a visit to one of the seniors complexes.
“They made me feel very wel- comed. They think it’s about time the area offered such services,” she said.
Eventually, Ryan said, an information directory will be compiled containing websites, email addresses and telephone numbers of services for seniors.
“We’ll be looking for services available to seniors in their area; like information about old age pension, or someone to mow the lawn — from basic services up, and pertaining specifically to each community,” said Ryan. “For now our goal is to find out what programs seniors here want.”
Kleinwort noted the satellite office has partnered with Island Harbour 50 Plus Club in Heart’s Delight-Islington and Princess Sheila Seniors in Carbonear.
“It’s taken three years since the conception and two years to get to this point — and we’re so excited about it,” she concluded.
The official opening will take place June 5 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Spaniard’s Bay Recreation Centre, with a ribbon cutting at the satellite office.
Anyone wishing to contact the office directly can call 786INFO (4630) or email: email@example.com.
Or, for more information visit the website at: www.seniorsresource.ca.
NOW OPEN - Cathy Kleinwort seated, and Marie Ryan, go over some resource material at the new Baccalieu Trail Seniors Resource Centre Satellite office in Spaniard’s Bay. It’s estimated that in five years about 50 per cent of the area’s population will be seniors.