Better at Home program potentially coming to Merritt

·2 min read

Merritt has been chosen as an ideal community for the Better at Home Program, which provides non-medical home support services to help seniors continue to live independently in their own homes.

The program is organized by the United Way, who teams up with a local not for profit to administer services such as friendly visits, transportation to appointments, light housekeeping and yard work, grocery shopping and snow shoveling.

According to the 2016 census, there are 1,170 persons 65 years and older in Merritt, with 715 (13.44%) of them still living independently in their own homes. However, these numbers are now projected to be higher as Merritt has become an attractive community for seniors and the overall population has grown since 2016.

There are currently 67 Better at Home Programs throughout the province, each administering a specially tailored program specific to their community. From April 2019 to March 2020 there were 11,935 active participants.

Funding for the services, of which about 38% are delivered by volunteers, is provided to the United Way by the Government of BC through the Ministry of Health. Although many services are provided free of charge, service fees are established on an income based sliding scale.

The services are provided to any senior living in a community that has a Better at Home program.

In Merritt, Interior Community Services (ICS) has been identified as a local host for the program.

“This is a very valuable program and very much needed across every community as far as I’m concerned,” said Tammy Roche, program coordinator for Better at Home Kamloops, which had 229 active clients prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We get calls all the time for Merritt, so this is very exciting I’m really pleased that this is going to happen. I hear on a daily basis how grateful these seniors are for these programs.”

The Better at Home program is also available in Ashcroft/Cache Creek, where program coordinator Nancy Kendall says the number one request is for housekeeping.

“Some of the seniors here do not have family in the area at all, so the housekeeper is sometimes the only person that they see all week,” said Kendall, who notes the housekeeper will often provide a friendly visits as well as cleaning services and use the visit as a ‘check-in’. After which, Better at Home will communicate with distant family members and let them know whether the senior is doing well or not.

Merritt seniors have approached mayor and council several times regarding snow clearing, and Mayor Brown inquired during a Better at Home Zoom meeting whether this was something that could be worked into Merritt’s program, either as a subsidized service or a sliding scale. At the regular council meeting of Nov. 10, Mayor Brown indicated that this was a definite possibility for the Nicola Valley.

Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald