Home program for seniors funded by government, run by United Way

Courtenay and Comox are joining B.C. communities included in a program dubbed Better at Home, designed to lend a helping hand to people 65 and older who live in their homes.

The program is managed by the United Way of the Lower Mainland and funded by the Province.

"We want to help seniors age with dignity and maintain their quality of life," United Way president/CEO Michael McKnight said in a news release. "Better at Home helps seniors stay engaged and independent. By providing seniors with the support they need, United Way helps prevent isolation, loneliness and related health problems."

The program will be delivered by non-profit organizations, selected through a community engagement process. Five communities, including the Sunshine Coast, have selected a non-profit operator and will be ready to offer services in the spring.

Services could include visits, yard work, home repair, transportation to appointments, snow removal, housekeeping or grocery shopping, provided by volunteers and paid staff. Services are supplemental to home support provided by health authorities.

The United Way will soon facilitate a community engagement process in Courtenay and Comox. Non-profits will be required to provide support and training, undertake criminal record checks and ensure their organization complies with B.C. laws.

The Better at Home program is structured to provide access to non-medical home support services for lower-income seniors, using a sliding scale, the Health Ministry said. Fees are based on income. Host agencies will be advised to base rates on commercial rates in the local market.

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