UPDATED: Nelson community decries Broader Horizons closure

Kootenay community, MLA urge Interior Health to explore all options for adult day program, provincial advocate office investigating

Kootenay seniors, their caregivers, community members and politicians are urging Interior Health to explore all available options before going ahead with the plan to shutter the Broader Horizons adult day program for the summer starting on June 30.

“My father and I have been affected by the Broader Horizons closure,” Leslie Baxter told the Star. “My father has been going for two months and it has been a great help for me as well as very beneficial mentally and physically for him.”

Baxter said there are currently no other suitable or affordable options in the area for her father Bill. His time at the program gives her some respite in the midst of his demanding care, as well as giving him a chance to socialize and enjoy himself.

Baxter said due to the overwhelming summer heat and dearth of places that will welcome seniors in Nelson, she’s not what sure she’s going to do now. She said the situation has been causing her “a great deal of stress”.

“I am concerned that it may not open in September as well,” she said.

Baxter was not the only one to wonder aloud whether Interior Health was really going to open again in September. Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall previously told the Star she she suspected the closure may have been due to managerial incompetence or be part of a general push towards privatization.

Cheryl Whittleton of Interior Health has assured seniors that the program will be open again by September, and said they’re aggressively looking to fill two vacant positions needed to make that happen.

“My team and Interior Health sees the value in these types of program and we understand they help people stay in their homes longer,” she said. “Home is the best option, and we have no intention of shutting this program down.”

But Becky Quirk of the Nelson & District Seniors Coordinating Society expressed her displeasure with the decision in an email, saying it leaves seniors “in the lurch”.

“There is speculation that this is the beginning of the end—that it won’t be reopening. There is also skepticism over the alleged reason for the closure—lack of staff. (One points to administrative incompetence—particularly around here where people are hungry for jobs.)”

Two long-time volunteers of Broader Horizons, Ellen Schmidt and Bernadette McAllister, decided to speak out about the closure, sharing some background with members of the community via email.

“Staff apparently do not know what will happen to their jobs. They (and we) are concerned for the clients—some of whom may be forced into a residential care situation way sooner than need be, and some of whom will need to fall back on home support or will wither away in isolation in their own homes.”

When reached by the Star, both McAllister and Schmidt expressed concern for they clients.

“I feel closing down for the summer will be a real setback for these people,” said McAllister. “They’re a family, and these people look forward to being with their family.”

Schmidt said many of the their clients are already isolated, and this may cause them to withdraw further from society.

“They may be withdrawn because their verbal skills are gone or their mobility is low. Maybe they don’t have family locally that can provide that sort of support, or they need a place to go for social activity, where they don’t have to worry about cooking. That way they feel they’re still a part of something and not living in some little apartment.”

She’s worried some of their clients won’t be able to return after months away.

“That’s the part that makes us really, really sad.”

Mark Blandford of the provincial Seniors Advocate Office said their office is now looking into the closure.

“We will be liaising with Interior Health and will endeavour to get more information about the program’s status,” he wrote in an email to the Nelson and District Seniors Coordinating Society.

Mungall said the Broader Horizons staff are willing to work through their vacations and commit to additional hours to avoid the closure going ahead.

“Everyone involved with Broader Horizons knows the value of this program and are willing to ensure it stays open this summer,” said Mungall. “Surely we can find a solution if the IH is willing as well.”

Mayor Deb Kozak said the city has been staying abreast of the situation, and she’s instructed councillors Robin Cherbo, Michael Dailly and Bob Adams to keep a close eye on how it develops.

She liaised with concerned citizens and staff members, and shares their concern for the residents affected.

“We contacted IH to ask them if there’s anything we can do as a city to keep this program open. We provided suggestions to them and asked if maybe there was an alternate program for these residents who are losing their connection with Broader Horizons. So far we haven’t heard back.”

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Nelson climate strike packs downtown to demand action

An inter-generational crowd staged a ‘die-in’ as part of the global strike Friday

Nelson’s Cedar Grove Estates affordable housing site to receive $3.2 million in renos

The project was made public during the Nelson CARES annual general meeting

Kootenay Lake ferry to shut down Saturday afternoon

Service to resume Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m.

Mystery illness killing Kootenay bees

Samples being sent to laboratories for analysis

Woman stabbed in downtown Nelson

Victim is in hospital, suspect is in police custody

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Takaya, B.C.’s intriguing lone wolf, seen eating seal and howling away on Discovery Island

Fun facts about Takaya the wolf, like his a 36-hour tour around Chatham, Discovery Islands

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

Most Read