By Breanne Massey

Pioneer Staff

The goal of reducing isolation and building strong relationships for seniors living within the Columbia Valley could become a reality for those in need of help coping with the daunting realities of daily life.

The provincially-funded Better at Home program will be offered in the Columbia Valley through its host organization, Family Dynamix, to help seniors with simple day-to-day tasks so that they can continue to live independently in their own homes and remain connected to the community.

The valley brought the program to the community, said Eirikka Brandson, field co-ordinator for Better at Home at the United Way of the Lower Mainland. There are 61 mainstreams that are up and running, but Invermere had been identified as one of the rural and isolated pilot projects I think the community is embracing it.

Ms. Brandson was pleased with the turnout of seniors, families, business owners and municipal politicians who attended the Columbia Valley Better at Home program launch at the Royal Canadian Legion in Invermere between 1 and 2 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26th. She added that those in attendance asked good questions and seemed eager to get the program off the ground.

People are invested, so I think its exciting, said Ms. Brandson. It was the voice of the people that helped secure the program in this region and I think the enthusiasm for it stood out (when we were creating a shortlist of rural communities to offer a pilot program).

Family Dynamix was awarded the contract in April 2015 to run the program as a pilot for rural communities moving forward.

Weve been working on administrative tasks since then until now in preparation of being able to deliver the program in various communities, said Pat Cope, Family Dynamix executive director. I think its a good fit for Family Dynamix because we are an organization thats been in the community for more than 25 years; we cover the area from Canal Flats to Spillimacheen; and we have an invested interest in the families in this valley and our board is committed to developing services and programs that directly impact the health of the community.

The B.C. government funds the program and receives help managing it from the United Way and a wide variety of non-profit organizations to provide services in each community.

Were hoping that we can get a maximum number of volunteers so that we can service the seniors in our communities as quickly and as efficiently as we can, said Jennifer Lindal, Columbia Valley Better at Home co-ordinator. I have meetings coming up with seniors already who are looking for support, so were looking for people that will be able to support those seniors.

Ms. Lindal added prospective volunteers for the Columbia Valley Better at Home program are screened through a series of interviews and complete a Criminal Record Check (CRC).

There are some unique opportunities to volunteer through this program.

Volunteers can be any age, Ms. Lindal said, but if they are under the age of majority, then we have their parents sign off. If theyre quite a bit younger, their parents come with them. Even seniors can support seniors theres no age barrier when it goes up so anybody can help.

She believes the biggest challenge to bringing the Better at Home program to light for seniors in the valley will be building up a manageable support system.

For more information about the program or to volunteer, contact Ms. Lindal at 250-342-5566, 250-342-1110 or email her at [email protected].