The Prime Times karaoke group entertains a crowd at the James Bay New Horizons Centre. The centre not only has seniors-oriented offerings in house, staff visit elderly residents in their own homes to let them know about programs that are available in their communities. Photo contributed

New Horizons outreach helps Victoria seniors

Getting the word out about available programs key to group’s work

When it comes to providing services and activities to help make one’s golden years more enjoyable and comfortable, Victoria’s seniors organizations have it down to a fine art.

With a variety of support programs available and scheduled activities ranging from mild to lively, the James Bay New Horizons Centre, Cook Street Activity Centre and Victoria Silver Threads Seniors Centre offer something for everyone aged 55 and over.

But what about the people who, for the most part, stay in their homes or apartments and don’t get out to the centres, let alone other regular activities such as grocery shopping and medical appointments?

There’s outreach for those folks as well.

“We’ve got 500-plus members who are active in various ways,” says Kim Dixon, executive director at the James Bay centre. “But there’s probably another 500 that are not as active.”

For the people more inclined to stay at home, the centre teams up with Silver Threads to meet residents where they are – often in the lobby or a common space in their buildings – to provide information about services and programs available in their communities.

The centre has a part-time staffer who makes appointments with resident managers to come down and share the information with interested tenants. It’s not a sales pitch, it’s simply an information session to let people know about services they may want to take advantage of, Dixon says.

“We invite everyone in the building to come down for a coffee and a cookie,” she says. “They don’t necessarily get what’s happening in their own community if they don’t get out and about. They’re surprised at what they might be able to get.”

It’s not only seniors centre programs that are brought to residents’ attention. For example, the James Bay Community Centre, located in the elementary school complex on Oswego Street, offers discount three-course meals on Tuesday and Thursday nights, while Beckley Farm Lodge offers a similar program.

Other topics brought up include the Better at Home program, which provides housekeeping and other services on a sliding fee scale; and B.C. Housing’s SAFER grant (Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters), which can help low-income seniors with their rent.

Informing people about programs and services is one thing, but encouraging them to get out and be social is another, Dixon notes.

“We have a lady on our reassurance program (volunteers call every morning to check in on vulnerable seniors) who hasn’t been out of her apartment in two years,” she says, noting the woman has her groceries delivered and receives other services in her home.

Such self-isolating behaviours can make it tough for others who hope to enhance a senior’s life, but having someone reach out in general at least shows that someone cares about them. To find links to the senior adult centres, visit victoria.ca and click on residents, then recreation, then community and seniors centres. Or, call Kim at James Bay New Horizons at 250-386-4432.

editor@vicnews.com

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