Coreen Gries (left), home support co-ordinator, and Joanne Motta, manager of the Kootenay Seniors Program, in front of Lakeside Place, 805 Nelson Ave. Photo: Submitted

Coreen Gries (left), home support co-ordinator, and Joanne Motta, manager of the Kootenay Seniors Program, in front of Lakeside Place, 805 Nelson Ave. Photo: Submitted

HOW WE CARE: Kootenay Seniors focuses on transportation and home support

The two programs will run out of Nelson CARES’ new apartment building on Nelson Avenue

by Stephanie Myers

Nelson CARES Society developed the Kootenay Seniors program after an assessment and program feasibility study highlighted the need in 2015.

The goal for Kootenay Seniors was to one day become a sustainable service and connection place for seniors in Nelson and the area. Kootenay Seniors has two essential programs: transportation and home support.

The transportation program works diligently to meet the ever-growing need for safe, affordable, and reliable transportation for seniors. The Kootenay Seniors team offers information for seniors about local transportation options, including transit schedule information and life after driving support and information including escorted day trips. The volunteer driver program is a part of the transportation program and offers low-cost transportation options, including medical and non-medical rides, seven days a week.

Stan, a user of the transportation program, says, “This service has given me the confidence to attend frequent medical appointments locally and in Trail and has reduced the stress on family and friends who are busy with work, families, or health issues of their own. I enjoy talking to the volunteer drivers who are so caring and thoughtful.”

Kootenay Seniors home support program enables people to stay in their homes longer and more safely by providing light housekeeping services. One of the key benefits of the program is the socializing that happens organically between the screened home support workers and seniors, which is appreciated and helps increase feelings of connectedness.

Seniors say they looked forward to the visits even though they were service calls. The Better at Home Program of the United Way and the government of British Columbia provide funding so that participants may pay a lower fee based on income, ensuring that services are free for low-income seniors and market rate for seniors with an income above the B.C. average.

Many seniors live outside the city of Nelson and, for various reasons such as declining health or lack of transportation, struggle to get to town to access services due to cost or unavailability of accessible services. As one of the largest senior serving agencies in the West Kootenay region, Nelson CARES Society – Kootenay Seniors is well aware of the challenges facing this aging demographic. They are committed to growing and adapting their programming and services to best serve these individuals.

To address the severe lack of housing for seniors, Nelson CARES Society has envisioned and now nearly completed a new building of apartments for seniors. Lakeside Place will be a modern, four-story building that will provide 47 affordable rental apartments for seniors ages 55 plus and people with disabilities. The building has six two-bedroom units, 36 one-bedroom units, five studio units, a large residential amenity room, an outdoor gardening and patio space, 19 underground parking spaces, and a sheltered bike and mobility scooter parking area.

Public and governmental systems have become difficult to navigate for those who do not have access to technology and thus create barriers to accessing required services. The 1,400-square-foot amenity room and commercial kitchen will be a hub of activity, offering the residents and community members alike a space to gather and learn tech skills and experience other Kootenay Seniors’ programming.

Dorothy, a Kootenay Seniors client, said, “I cannot wait to join new programs and meet some new people! It feels like it has been years since I have been able to chat and have a cup of tea.”

The pandemic has revealed for KS participants and elders nationwide the benefit of learning to use programs that will allow them to stay connected to family and friends. Our recent surveys showed that participants are looking forward to in-person programming that will be offered at the new location and are excited at the prospect of continuing to learn alongside others about how to use technology for support as they age.

This program, like all of the Nelson CARES programs, is supported by the board of directors. If you are curious about the Nelson CARES board and becoming more engaged in this organization head to the website and click Our Society (https://nelsoncares.ca/welcome-to-the-board/).