At the request of the Town of Shaunavon, a local task force has been assembled to address the concept of aging in place as it pertains to the community of Shaunavon and surrounding area.
The committee is comprised of community members including, Wendy Thienes (Chairperson), Jaelee Guenther (Secretary), Sharon Dickie, Kim Anderson, Gloria Illerbrun, Rhonda Johnston, Pamela Bahnuick, Suzanne Hunter, Leanne Thomas, and Patti Illerbrun, along with Shaunavon council members Travis Nelson and mayor Kyle Bennett.
“Our goal is to find out what we’re missing in the community that will enable people to stay in their homes for a longer period of time," explained Thienes. "We want to fill in the gaps, or find more things our community can do, to help our aging citizens remain in their homes and in the community.”
"There are a lot of local residents who are approaching retirement age and we want to find out if there are things that can be done in the community to keep them here, or even attract other people to the community who are facing similar circumstances," she added.
The task force has established a series of goals that include:
- conducting a needs assessment regarding aging in place by utilizing existing provincial statistics complemented by local focus group discussions to inform the committee’s recommendations;
- creating an inventory of existing services and supports;
- formulating recommendations for the Town of Shaunavon for further long-term action that is required to ensure that Aging in Place can be achieved in the community.
The task force has also made it a priority to communicate its work to the community at large and create an awareness of the need for ongoing Aging in Place initiatives.
As part of that process, the special committee will be holding a series of focus group sessions with the intention of collecting feedback from residents that will be used to help the committee formulate its recommendations.
The first focus group meeting will take place this Friday, September 24 at 10 a.m. at the Grand Coteau Heritage and Cultural Centre. Everyone is welcome, and encouraged, to attend.
The gathering will be led by Gloria Illerbrun and Leanne Thomas. Please contact Wendy Thienes at 306-294-7383 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register or if you have any questions.
Anyone who is unable to attend the public sessions is encouraged to contact Wendy, Gloria or Leanne to provide their input and ideas.
Thienes noted that the task force members include a number of former and current health care workers in the community, as well as several who have experience as family "care-givers."
"Certainly, one of our priorities will be to talk to more care-givers and seniors to see what kind of ideas they might have," she stated.
Another goal of the task force is to prepare a proposal for a pilot project that could include the participation of the Town of Shaunavon and/or the provincial government.
"We're not necessarily trying to re-invent the wheel here, there are lots of other supports that are currently available," said Thienes, listing the Age Friendly Saskatchewan initiative as an example. "But we want to see what we might be able to do to help ensure that our Aging in Place initiatives can be achieved."
Age Friendly Saskatchewan is part of the Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism. This group will be providing a presentation to the committee/community in October to offer some insight into what it means to be an Age Friendly Community. Thienes says one of the recommendations moving forward may be to form an Age Friendly Shaunavon committee.
Thienes is hopeful the task force will be able to submit its recommendations to the town by mid December.
Along with the focus group meeting at the Grand Coteau Centre on Sept. 24th, additional small group sessions are also planned for:
Thursday, September 30
Evergreen Villa Residents
Friday, October 1
Prairie Sky Estates Residents
Tuesday, October 12
Shaunavon Senior’s Centre Members
Some of the topics expected to be covered during the focus group gatherings will include:
-What are the strengths or positive things about growing old in Shaunavon?
-What are the concerns and challenges associated with getting older in Shaunavon?
-What is the role of the Town of Shaunavon in the lives of aging older adults?
-What does the community offer that makes aging easier for older citizens?
-What long-term care services are you familiar with that help older citizens live in their homes as they age?
- What services do you use as an older adult?
- What services do you wish were offered?
- What services do you think are essential for the community to provide or maintain to allow citizens the opportunity to live where they choose as they grow old?
Jacob Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shaunavon Standard