Very recently clients of the Broader Horizons facility on Gordon Rd. in Nelson received a letter informing them that effective June 30, Broader Horizons is closing for the summer. I understand this letter is under the signature of Cydney Higgins, community integration service manager. The letter states the closure is due to an inability to fill staff vacancies.
The closing of the facility for even a few days removes a major and significant (in some cases only) social venue for many seniors, caregivers and others. It is much more than a gathering place and lunch program. Working with seniors and others, we see and hear daily the difference this facility makes to real people.
I have gotten significant feedback on the value of the program to seniors, especially vulnerable seniors. Since the announcement our office has had numerous individuals express concern about both the temporary closure and possible future changes to this valuable program.
An equally important consideration is the letter was sent directly to the clients about two weeks in advance of the closure with no advanced warning. This puts all of the clients, and anyone who cares about those clients, in an extremely difficult and stressful position.
One woman I can think of takes care of her spouse with Alzheimer’s. This woman has her own serious health conditions. The only way she is able to hold things together is by knowing that her spouse goes off a couple times a week to Broader Horizons and gives her a break.
Broader Horizons is not exclusively for people with dementia, but people with dementia are part of the clientele. This last-minute announcement is rough on the caretakers. It is hard enough to find a helper when the person cared for is “normal.” It is even harder when it is someone with dementia. And generally speaking, they do not take change well. Given the clientele Broader Horizon’s serves, the last-minute change is even tougher.
We simply expect more from Interior Health management than this. Deciding to close the program is a clear failure of management to properly manage in my opinion. Management at every level needs to be held accountable for the human cost of their decisions, or lack of decisions, over the last months that has resulted in this closure. Too little value is given the cost to the client when deciding priorities — keeping services affecting real people needs to be put at the top of the to-do list.
Prior to the client letter we have been concerned that the program was being minimalized by Interior Health. We are very concerned the “temporary” closure is just the next step in shutting it down. I ask Interior Health board members to please take the time and ask the questions necessary to understand how these decisions and the events around them have been allowed to evolve. Hold senior managers accountable, both for the sake of the clients of this program and the clients of future programs threatened by inaction.
Brad Howard, Chair
Nelson and District Seniors