Seniors seeking support

Seniors struggle to navigate health-care system for support

Panelists Jean Crowder

Panelists Jean Crowder

Seniors and their family members are getting lost in the bureaucracy of the health-care system and having difficulty accessing the care and support they need.

They are struggling to get the information, said Doug Routley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan NDP MLA.

“The problem is there is no central authority,” he said.

Routley was a panelist during an aging and seniors’ issues roundtable organized by the NDP March 21.

Other panelists included: Jean Crowder, Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP MP;  Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog; Kim Slater, vice-chairman of the Vancouver Island Association of Family Councils; Ruth Matson, coordinator of the senior peer counselling program for Nanaimo Family Life; and John Horn, City of Nanaimo social planner.

Joan Ryan, executive director of the Nanaimo Lifeline Program, said more communication and education is needed to help get health-care information to seniors.

“We struggle on ways to get the information to the people who most need the information,” she said, adding that one of the most difficult tasks is communicating with seniors living in isolation.

Matson said about 10 per cent of seniors in Nanaimo require long-term care and the other 90 per cent are struggling to access services to age in their homes.  She said more support is needed for outreach programs.

“The other 90 per cent can slip through the cracks as their issues exist below the threshold required to get support from many agencies,” she said. “Many seniors merely cope with shrinking resources and diminishing services while doing their best to age gracefully in place.”

Other people suggested seniors need more affordable housing, improved transportation options, the driver-re-examination test needs to change, medications must be more affordable and the government needs to standardize care in long-term facilities.

Horn said municipalities need to engage community members in planning to create communities that serve seniors’ needs.

As the population continues to age, city layout will be more problematic, Horn said.

Barry Avis, Parksville-Qualicum NDP candidate, is hosting a public discussion on seniors’ care at McGirr Elementary School Thurs., March 29 from 7-9 p.m. Katrine Conroy, Opposition Critic for Seniors’ Care, will also attend.

The event will screen the documentary The Remaining Light.



— from the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Black Press



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