International Day of the Older Persons: How United Way serves seniors through critically important community programs
United Way provides More Than Meals to seniors and supports caregivers through work with Family Caregivers of British Columbia
Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ territories | October 1, 2021 – Today marks the United Nations International Day of the Older Person and United Way Southern Vancouver Island (United Way) is highlighting two very important seniors programs they coordinate and support: More Than Meals and Focusing on Family Caregivers by Family Caregivers of British Columbia.
Connecting with seniors is one of United Way’s areas of action, and through United Way’s More Than Meals program, over 1,200 meals are delivered weekly to seniors across Southern Vancouver Island. Extreme loneliness and isolation, malnutrition or food insecurity, mobility issues and limited income impacts many seniors in the region. From this already concerning baseline, COVID-19 has compounded these issues. Therefore, More Than Meals is not just a healthy meal delivery program – isolated seniors are receiving critically important social visits with a friendly face.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, our More Than Meals program has played a critically important role in ensuring the health and safety of seniors in our community through nutrition and social interaction,” said Mark Breslauer, CEO of United Way Southern Vancouver Island. “Recently, one of our volunteers visited the home of a senior, only to find them unresponsive and in need of medical assistance. This volunteer was able to help someone who desperately needed it, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the program in place.”
Looking to expand the program from individual seniors to senior couples looking for extra meal support, United Way and its senior-serving agency partners are asking any interested parties to contact Beacon Community Services at the SHOAL Centre to sign up.
The Family Caregivers of British Columbia (FCBC) supports over one million caregivers in British Columbia – people who provide physical and/or emotional care to a family member, friend, or neighbour. Twenty-eight per cent of BC residents are family caregivers and 60 per cent of those caregivers are working in addition to caregiving.
The pandemic disrupted services and required caregivers to fill in the gaps. According to a survey conducted by the FCBC, over half of caregivers in BC reported that their mental health had worsened and over 40 per cent reported their physical health had declined. To meet the need, United Way is funding a program offered by FCBC focused on the mental and physical health of caregivers.
“Family and friend caregivers have been on the front lines of the pandemic for the past year and a half now. Many of which are behind closed doors living at home. Being a caregiver is an essential service, and we need to shine a spotlight on how we can support them,” said Barb MacLean, Executive Director of FCBC. “If you are a caregiver, please know you aren’t alone and reach out for help. FCBC is here for you. We can connect you to peer support groups, counselling, and respite services.”
To learn more about the United Way More Than Meals program or to offer your support, visit: https://uwsvi.ca/news/more-than-meals. If you or someone you know could benefit from this program, please contact Beacon Community Services at SHOAL Centre, 250-656-5537.
To learn more about Family Caregivers of British Columbia or to offer your support, visit: https://www.familycaregiversbc.ca. If you or someone you know is a caregiver who needs support, please call the support line at 1-877-520-3267.
ABOUT UNITED WAY SOUTHERN VANCOUVER ISLAND
United Way Southern Vancouver Island (formerly United Way Greater Victoria) is a trusted leader, influencer and catalyst for change. United, we accelerate change to improve the lives of our neighbours who need it most, making our local community stronger. We believe everyone in the Greater Victoria region, which includes 13 municipalities and 11 First Nations and the Southern Gulf Islands should have the opportunity to reach their potential. Our priorities are focused on assisting isolated seniors; families in need; diversity, equity and inclusion; and individuals struggling with mental health challenges and/or addictions. Last fiscal year, United Way raised $6.2 million thanks to over 7,000 donors and 200 workplaces opening their offices to run employee giving programs. Through our community partnerships, over 125,000 people on Southern Vancouver Island received support. Show your local love today by making a gift to United Way at www.uwsvi.ca