The winds of change blow through this community but change is not always good for all residents.
Better At Home, a United Way program helping seniors remain independent is managed in Quesnel by Brenda Gardiner and has been operating for three years from the office on Reid Street.
Locally, 287 clients are registered with the program and Gardiner has 88 volunteers on the books but about half are inactive or not available during the hours or days of the week when necessary.
Of all the services seniors require, housecleaning is the highest usage and rides to out-of-town appointments is high on the list as well.
Managing with the same budget she began with, Gardiner says their client intake is high. For this reason she is planning a fundraiser soon to avoid having to cut client intakes and downsize the services they offer.
Regarding rides to out-of-town appointments, Gardiner cites the example of an elderly client who was away from home for 12 hours just to attend one appointment in Prince George.
“Clients with mobility challenges cannot be away from home and on their own for such a long time but that’s what is required to use the Northern Health bus,” she said.
“We understand the bus has limitations but our clients aren’t in a position to make the necessary sacrifices to use that service.
“We are spending a large amount of the contracted services budget on these very necessary rides, without donations from Quesnel Rotary and the Legion we could not have supplied the amount of rides we have.”
She encourages anyone whose able to make a donation to the program, to drop by the office. Better at Home can also issue a taxable receipt. The donations can be specifically targeted.
Seniors, living on their own, often require services like Lifeline, a medical alert system that provides live help when needed.
Again, Gardiner has seen great need for this service, especially for the very elderly who live alone and have no family or support.
“Lifeline is needed for so many of our seniors, yet many are well below the $15,500 yearly single income level and cannot afford the set up fee or the $40+/month usage fees,” she said.
“It’s a difficult sell, as the client has to decide if they can take that amount out of their food budget.
“A true story – one of my clients fell in her home and spent two days and nights on the floor before being found. She now has lifeline. I can think of at least 12 other clients who should have it, but can’t afford it.”
Gardiner would like to see sponsors for the clients in dire need where it is a safety issue, or sponsor half a client and someone else sponsors the other half.
Without her active and amazing volunteers, Gardiner says there wouldn’t be a program.
“Without their dedications, love and concern for our seniors, our program would not be the success that it is,” she said.
“They provide rides to our clients, some just do shopping, others are only snow shovelers, many are friendly visitors to our many alone and lonely clients and some choose to do all the tasks. We also have some volunteers that do just yard and garden work. The needs are many and varied, a criminal record check is needed and an application needs to be completed, but the volunteer can choose the area of services they want to perform or can choose all.”
Quesnel’s Better at Home began as a provincial pilot program and has evolved to a thriving, successful program, however Gardiner and her trusty team of committed volunteers needs the public’s
help to carry on these worthy services.
If you have a few hours to volunteer, a few bucks to donate or are a senior in need of services contact Brenda Gardiner, 250-992-9156 or drop by 275 Reid St. in downtown Quesnel.