Province promises greater investment in seniors

In recent months, the province’s financial coffers have been cracked open, making way for a stream of new funding announcements for many sectors of government spending.

Most recently, Manitoba’s senior population will benefit.

On March 2, the Stefanson government announced the introduction of a $12.6 million hearing aid grant for lower income seniors.

According to the province, approximately 25 percent of seniors experience hearing loss which could be improved through the use of hearing aids.

“Our government recognizes hearing loss as a priority concern… and [now] more Manitoba seniors who require hearing aids will have the financial means to access them regardless of income level,” says Seniors and Long-term Care Minister Scott Johnston. “Hearing aids provide valuable benefits to improve quality of life in a number of important ways such as fully participating with family, friends, and co-workers, while also avoiding the isolation that can be associated with hearing loss.”

Grants of up to $2,000 will be provided to qualifying applicants later this spring. In order to qualify, recipients must be 65 years of age or older, have a family income of less than $80,000, and have a prescription for hearing aids from an audiologist or otolaryngologist.

Other new funding, too, is on its way. Additional resources will be available to support seniors who wish to remain in their homes and communities longer.

This comes in response to the Provincial Seniors Strategy, a guide for the government to address challenges faced by older adults, their families, and caregivers.

An additional $12.6 million is designated for the Self and Family Managed Care (SFMC) program this year, with a further $1.3 million next year.

The SFMC program provides funding to senior clients looking for more diverse options in their homecare services.

According to the Southern Health-Sante Sud (SHSS) website, clients or designated family members can act on their own to administer, recruit, retain, coordinate, and supervise non-professional staff persons.

SHSS will also be among the first health regions this year to receive $1.3 million from the province in support of enhanced palliative care services. The funding will provide further palliative care training to health providers and improve access to services for clients living out their final days in hospital or at home.

Seniors 55 or older who identify as 2SLGBTQ+ can expect to benefit from $300,000 in provincial funding over the next two years through the Over the Rainbow program.

The program’s aim is to help reduce social isolation while enabling aging-in-place within a supported community environment.

Habitat for Humanity Manitoba (HFHM) will be provincially subsidized to the tune of $450,000 this year to boost their services to seniors. HFHM offers home modifications, renovations, and rehabilitations to low-income seniors to keep them living independently at home longer.

In order to collect data regarding the diverse needs of today’s seniors, a comprehensive public engagement process was recently carried out. This included round table sessions in 13 communities, interviews with older adults and caregivers, discussion groups involving more than 900 participants, as well as surveys and workshops.

Advice was also gathered from a collection of experts in the field of aging.

“This strategy follows extensive and provincewide engagement and feedback to government and the adoption of person-centred values,” says Connie Newman, executive director of the Manitoba Association of Senior Communities and Age-friendly Manitoba Initiative. “It will also bring about improvements in system navigation, making it easier to find information and access the services and supports we need.”

Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen