Closures and restrictions to services resulting from COVID-19 this past year-and-a-half have impacted many in the South Cariboo and some seniors are feeling the effects of limited assistance.
For Pam Canty and her husband, Doug, a day program offered through Interior Health that has been shut down is “dreadfully missed.”
Prior to March 2020, Doug – who has Alzheimer’s – had been attending the adult day program in the hospital complex twice a week, offering much-need stimulation for him and a break for Pam.
When the program was closed down due to COVID restrictions, Pam was left to care for Doug on her own at their Bridge Lake property.
“For the caregiver, the program was a break, and that for me has been huge,” Pam said. “There’s an awful lot of people who rely on those programs.
Pam said she has received no clear answer from Interior Health as to when the program will be back up and running; staff who ran the program were deployed to other positions around the community.
A spokesperson from Interior Health told her that they hope to have a firm restart date “in the coming weeks.”
“We are currently working on a restart plan but no date is set at this time. With the program being on hold during COVID-19, we utilized the program staff in other areas of need, and they will need to be transitioned back to the program,” an Interior Health email read.
While many services and support programs throughout the region have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, help is still available for seniors and caregivers who need assistance navigating programs.
Leah Sinal, community navigator with the Canadian Mental Health Association South Cariboo, said the demand is high for supporting seniors through the process of accessing medical services, housing, paperwork and government aid.
“We do support a large population of seniors in the community,” Sinal said. “Sometimes, it’s a starting point for people to gather information and the supports and resources that they’re looking for.”
Sinal said issues of food security, government paperwork, healthcare, transportation and housing are among the top areas that seniors in the community need assistance with. Those in need of help can call the community navigator phone at 250-644-1687 and set up a time to meet for the intake process, which generally takes 30 to 45 minutes.
Depending on volume of inquiries, Sinal said sometimes it can take a few days to get the supports in place, but generally, help can be offered that same day.
Pam said that although it has been a difficult stretch of time without the adult day program in 100 Mile House, there have been a few positives to come out of the pandemic restrictions. Being able to have telephone appointments with specialists, rather than travelling to larger city centres is a big one, she said.
“I’ve found it helpful to be able to speak to a specialist over the phone, so I’m hoping that continues,” she said, noting she is cautiously optimistic about services reopening fully in the near future. “It’s been a really long haul for us, the sooner we can get back to normalcy, the better.”