It’s time to change how we sup­port se­niors in Al­berta

The McLeod River Post - - Family, Farm & Garden - Spe­cial to the Post

If you bring up the topic of how well se­niors are sup­ported in Al­berta, chances are that most in­di­vid­u­als will have a story to share about a se­nior they know whose hous­ing, sup­port or care needs were not ad­dressed ap­pro­pri­ately, or in a timely man­ner. You would hear frus­tra­tion with the ‘sys­tem’ in gen­eral, which means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple de­pend­ing on the con­text of the con­ver­sa­tion. While there are many ap­pro­pri­ate op­tions avail­able to sup­port se­niors, there are gaps be­tween var­i­ous ser­vice providers, the in­for­ma­tion se­niors re­ceive and re­source al­lo­ca­tions that do not al­ways make sense. Hard­work­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions, hous­ing providers and front line staff are in place to of­fer ser­vices yet wait lists, bu­reau­cracy and fund­ing can make it dif­fi­cult to as­sist those in need.

It’s time to change how we sup­port se­niors in Al­berta. The Al­berta Se­niors Com­mu­ni­ties & Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (ASCHA) is geared-up to move things for­ward in pos­i­tive ways for Al­berta’s se­niors hous­ing res­i­dents/ten­ants as we pre­pare for an­other provin­cial elec­tion sea­son. ASCHA rep­re­sents se­niors com­mu­ni­ties across the prov­ince, in­clud­ing pub­lic and pri­vate providers and ad­vo­cates on be­half of its mem­bers and Al­ber­tans in need of hous­ing and sup­port op­tions. ASCHA’s no­ble cause is to em­power se­niors to have choice and a life of pur­pose wherein they are val­ued, hon­oured and re­spected. The As­so­ci­a­tion is do­ing this through its “It’s Time Cam­paign” (#it­stime) which will ex­plore ways to build a bet­ter pub­lic un­der­stand­ing of the is­sues se­niors and their fam­i­lies face so as to make nav­i­gat­ing the com­plex­i­ties in­her­ent in the sys­tem less com­pli­cated and frus­trat­ing. ASCHA will do this in col­lab­o­ra­tion with mem­bers, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, stake­holder groups, govern­ment and other re­lated as­so­ci­a­tions.

Se­niors hous­ing and sup­port providers also re­al­ize that the lan­guage sur­round­ing se­niors hous­ing is in­con­sis­tent, and that se­niors and their fam­i­lies of­ten ex­pe­ri­ence frus­tra­tion. A study was un­der­taken to ad­dress bar­ri­ers in ter­mi­nol­ogy and un­der­stand­ings. Over 1100 re­sponses were col­lected from Al­ber­tans which were used to in­form ASCHA’s “What We Heard” Re­port around com­mon ter­mi­nol­ogy, which sparked the As­so­ci­a­tion’s “Cut the Clut­ter” (#cut­the­clut­ter) ini­tia­tive. The re­port and its find­ings can be found on ASCHA web­site at: www.ascha.com/ad­vo­ca­cy_­cut­the­clut­ter.

“ASCHA is at the fore­front of lead­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion on se­niors hous­ing is­sues. A new ar­range­ment is in or­der, and it must be co­op­er­a­tive. Al­ber­tans want to see ap­pro­pri­ate ser­vice op­tions in their com­mu­nity. It’s an is­sue that will im­pact us all, as we are all in the process of ag­ing.” – Ray­mond Swonek, ASCHA Pres­i­dent

Ser­vice de­liv­ery providers and Al­ber­tans need their ideas and sug­ges­tions for im­prove­ment heard by pol­icy mak­ers in or­der to ad­dress ma­jor is­sues. It’s time to put ide­olo­gies and po­lit­i­cal lean­ings aside to en­sure that Al­ber­tans have the sup­ports they need. It’s time to do the right thing.

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