The Council Task Force on Seniors presented the final reports from the Housing, Health, and Supports and Services Sub-Committees during the Jan. 14 Committee of the Whole meeting.
“Everyone appointed to the task force is here because of special interest in seniors’ needs,” said the Council Task Force on Seniors Co-Chair Cathy Burness.
“The goal of the task force was to determine seniors housing requirements, and to identify additional needs of seniors as they age,” she said.
She added, “We needed to know what services and supports are already in place, as well as supports that are presently unavailable or those that are not entirely meeting the needs of seniors.”
During the first Council Task Force on Seniors meeting, three sub-committees, housing, health care, and supports and services, were created.
“Throughout the past year, the members of the sub-committees have worked tirelessly to produce comprehensive reports,”’ Burness said.
The Council Task Force on Seniors Housing Sub-Committee took into account many factors while creating the final report, such as what age is a person considered a senior, their ethnic background, what are the housing options, and what aging in place means.
“Aging in place is important, but the health and well-being of a senior is paramount,” said the Council Task Force on Seniors Chairperson of the Housing Sub-Committee John Beal.
“People will reach an age when they may or will need alternative housing arrangements in our community,” he said.
It’s also important to consider what is involved for aging seniors when they decide to move.
“Most would like to stay in their own home as long as possible. Some are more proactive than others in making future housing decisions. Sadly, many seniors don’t make any decision until there is a major change in health or death,” Beal said.
He added, “This is all very important as it helps us determine what different housing requirements there are.”
The housing sub-committee recommended that the City of Chestermere will ensure seniors are able to age in place and have a safe place to live in Chestermere.
“The City of Chestermere should develop promotional information that identifies why the City of Chestermere is an amazing place to live,” Beal said.
In addition to developing promotional information, the housing sub-committee encouraged the City of Chestermere to continue to push for and develop a partnership with Alberta Health Services (AHS), to have more age-related health and medical services.
“The City of Chestermere should actively continue to communicate with and engage with developers to develop seniors’ housing and age-related amenities,” Beal said.
He added, “The City of Chestermere should promote and encourage residents to plan for seniors’ needs in the future.”
Along with ensuring Chestermere seniors can age in place, the appropriate health services must be available and easily accessible.
“The task force for seniors has been a leap forward for seniors in this community,” said the Council Task Force on Seniors Health Sub-Committee Co-Chairperson Leslie Racz.
“Our scope was to determine the health services required for seniors to age in place safely,” she said.
Racz has watched the health resources in Chestermere evolve over the years from one clinic to four medical clinics, a new health centre where AHS operate public health services, lab services, mental health, addiction services, home care, and palliative care.
The Council Task Force on Seniors Health Sub-Committee has many strategies to create an age-friendly community and recommended that the City of Chestermere advocate and ensure health-related services will be in place so seniors can age in the community.
The medical strategies the city can implement to ensure seniors have the appropriate health services include enhancing Chestermere’s partnership with AHS, physicians working in Chestermere, and EMS services while promoting the need for the development of a senior’s day clinic.
The community supports the city can implement include promoting the business opportunity for a private radiology service, supporting the development of a senior’s resource book, supporting community support services, enhancing communication with seniors, and following through on the commitment to make Chestermere an age-friendly community.
The Council Task Force on Seniors encourages the City of Chestermere to continue to guide and facilitate the requirements for all levels of seniors housing and continuing to promote transparency and communication for seniors by addressing residents’ feedback.
Along with addressing the housing and health needs of seniors, the Council Task Force on Seniors also addressed the supports and services required for seniors to age in Chestermere.
The Council Task Force on Seniors Supports and Services Sub-Committee’s scope of work was to identify and establish seniors’ services required to support seniors aging in place.
The supports and services sub-committee recommended that the City of Chestermere improve the communication to and from seniors in the community.
A resource book can be created to ensure there is communication. The resource book will cover topics such as seniors housing, supports and services, health services, professional services, and other community resources that assist seniors as they age in place.
The resource book will be a single point of reference for organizations, and services available to seniors, and will be updated every two years.
It’s important the City of Chestermere advocate for an Advisory Committee, which is committed to the Supports and Services Sub-Committee.
The Supports and Services Sub-Committee recommended that the city improve senior transportation services to connect seniors both within and outside of the community and provide a senior’s centre that meets all seniors’ needs.
The sub-committee also suggested the city collaborate with the Chestermere Whitecappers Association to enhance services and resources.
For the Council Task Force on Seniors Co-Chairperson Sherri Standish, it was important to get involved with the task force to ensure seniors can age safely in the community.
“I hope that finally, something will be done so our seniors can age in place. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to meet the needs of Chestermere seniors and to satisfy the recommendations,” Standish said.
The Council Task Force on Seniors is confident the recommendations will translate into a to-do list, engage staff, community partners, and all levels of government to participate and collaborate.
“From day one, we have seen that our mayor and council are very much in support of this idea of aging in place, to keep our treasured seniors here in Chestermere, near their friends, families, and community,” Standish said.
“We are confident that council will continue to show their commitment by following through on the recommendations given, and we are very excited and proud of the work that we have done,” she said.