A quest to learn what seniors around the province want for their future brought provincial Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie to Duncan on Friday, July 11 to visit local services for seniors.
Appointed on March 19 as Canada’s first Seniors Advocate, Mackenzie’s responsibility is to serve as the voice for seniors in B.C. Her mandate includes the monitoring and review of system-wide issues affecting the well-being of seniors and helping raise awareness province-wide about services for seniors.
In Duncan, one of Mackenzie’s visits was to Sunridge Place, a seniors’ residence owned by Park Place Seniors Living. Mackenzie said she chose Sunridge Place because the residence offers both assisted living and complex (nursing) care.
“It’s a good physical environment: single rooms with ensuite baths and bright, airy spaces,” Mackenzie said. She also noted some good practices being followed by staff and said she had spoken with very engaged residents.
Mackenzie has already visited many communities throughout B.C., touring residences and speaking to providers of seniors’ services in addition to holding Town Hall meetings.
One of her goals is to find out what seniors want for their futures and how available services in different parts of the province meet those needs.
“The strongest theme is that seniors want to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible,” Mackenzie said. Affordable housing and support services help seniors remain independent but Mackenzie found the availability of both varies depending on the individual community.
She has also found that while seniors strive for independence,families and friends who love them may be less willing to accept the risk of seniors living independently despite failing health.
“We want to give people freedom of choice until they make a choice we don’t agree with. We may say we’re going to listen to seniors but we’re not good with allowing seniors to accept risk,” Mackenzie said. “It’s about the journey. Are we going to let seniors choose their journey?”
For Vancouver Island residents who want to share their views on seniors’ services, the Seniors Advocate will be holding Town Hall meetings throughout the island in the fall.