Seniors’ advocates soon en route to Provincial Summit on Aging

Over 350 advocates are set to descend in at the Provincial Summit on Aging November 6 to 8, hosted by Healthy Aging by United Way and the Community-Based Seniors’ Service Leadership Council. 

The second biennial summit will bring together leaders from local organizations, older adults, family and friend caregivers, academia and government. The diverse group will discuss and collaborate on current issues and innovations in healthy aging. 

Justine Keirn, Executive Director of Valley Community Services Society in Creston, will be among them.  

“The summit is a great opportunity to connect with other people doing similar work,” says Justine. “These events bring us all together to learn and strengthen our services.”

participants applaud at the provincial summit on aging 2017

Attendees cheer speakers at the first Provincial Summit on Aging in 2017.

From pilot program to province-wide model

Justine will be in good company.  

Some of the summit attendees will be launching Therapeutic Activation Programs for Seniors, or TAPS, in their local communities. The program expansion is thanks to support from United Way and the Ministry of Health.  

TAPS programs take some of the best features of residential care – group activities like art, singing, music, physical activities, meals and outings. But TAPS offers these from a central community location, with transportation support for attendees to come and return home each day.  

seniors at TAPS in Creston

Older adults participate in the TAPS program in Creston. Credit: Creston Valley Advance.

Advocates say these programs have countless benefits for both participants and the local community. For example, seniors build strong social connections and maintain their physical and mental health.

What’s more, family caregivers receive valuable respite. All the while, providers say costs to local health care providers are dramatically reduced. 

In fact, TAPS was developed and innovated by Valley Community Services Society in Creston.  

Justine attended the Provincial Summit on Aging in 2017, where the TAPS program was highlighted. The program caught the eye and the praise of not only other service providers, but of government representatives and funders.   

Now TAPS programs will be strengthened or launched in communities across B.C., with support from United Way of the Lower Mainland and the Ministry of Health. 

kahir lalji at 2017 summit

Kahir Lalji, Provincial Director – Population Health at United Way, speaks at the 2017 summit.

“We believe every older adult in British Columbia has the right to age with dignity at home and in their own community,” said Kahir Lalji, Provincial Director for Population Health at United Way of the Lower Mainland.  

“That’s why we support and invest in TAPS and programs like it, in Creston and across B.C. We’re proud to provide a platform for these great partners to share their innovative program with others across the province.” 

Better at Home just keeps getting better 

Providers of Better at Home services will also be well-represented, at both the summit and the province-wide Better at Home meet-up taking place just prior.   

Better at Home is a program that helps seniors with simple day-to-day tasks. It enables older adults continue to live independently in their own homes and remain connected to their communities. The Government of British Columbia funds the program, United Way of the Lower Mainland manages it, while local non-profit organizations provide direct services. 

Since the Better at Home program came to Nelson in 2018, Nelson CARES got straight to work strengthening services for local seniors. They started with critical home support. 

Now the local agency is ready to tackle another critical issue for older adults: transportation. 

senior angie gets help into a bus

Transportation is often identified as a critical issue for older adults in communities across B.C.

“Transportation is such a challenge for seniors, especially in rural areas,” said Corrine. 

“Older adults are so isolated by geography and weather, and then when you lose your licence, you can also lose your independence.” 

That’s why Corinne and her team are eager to launch a volunteer driving program for seniors in Nelson, this month. She’ll have the chance to connect with others providing this service in communities across B.C, at the Better at Home meet-up. 

Throughout the meet-up and the summit, advocates will be sharing best practices, busting myths about getting older, and encouraging their communities to “re-think aging.”

“Aging is not something that just happens when you turn 60 or 65,” says Kahir 

“It’s a lifelong process.” 

The Provincial Summit on Aging, hosted by Healthy Aging by United Way and the Community-Based Seniors’ Service Leadership Council, takes place at the Executive Hotel Vancouver in Richmond, B.C., November 6 to 8. Check out the agenda and full conference details, here.

Transportation can change seniors’ lives. Meet Linda, one inspiring Better at Home volunteer changing lives, one ride at a time.