The Shaunavon Aging in Place task force gathered some valuable community input during a first focus group session on Friday September 24 at the Grand Coteau Centre.
“We talked about strengths and what services are already available in the community," explained Wendy Thienes who is chairing the Aging in Place committee. "But we also heard from people about a number of gaps or areas for improvement, including the need for transportation for people to travel outside of the community and during evening or weekend hours in town."
Thienes said that other suggestions included the idea of creating some kind of central resource that can direct seniors to services that seniors may require as well as the need for some of those services. The idea of creating a companionship program was also brought forward and there was discussion for the need to preserve and enhance the formal health care services available in the community.
Eighteen people attended the first focus group session. Some of the session involved a round table discussion with all participants, while other questions were addressed in smaller group settings. There were a variety of stakeholders present including seniors, caregivers and health professionals.
Thienes, along with committee members Gloria Illerbrun and Leanne Thomas, led the focus group.
Thienes believes that their committee gained some valuable insight through the session and that participants felt that addressing the topic of aging in place is very much needed in our community.
The next three focus groups will be exclusively made of seniors living in different housing situations in the community and senior’s centre members.
“The questions will be relatively the same, but it will be important to hear from these residents of Shaunavon who are currently in the midst of aging in place, and who have perhaps already relocated to a more suitable housing situation for one reason or another," stated Thienes. "It will be important to learn what influenced their decisions around staying in the community, moving out of their homes, etc. to this point.”
Thienes said that the information gathered from the focus groups will be used to help guide the committee's work, which could include the exploration of a possible pilot project that may address one or more of the areas that are most identified.
The committee hopes to submit recommendations to the town by the end of the year.
The aging in place task committee is also planning a presentation by Age Friendly Saskatchewan at 1:30 pm on October 20 via Zoom.
“Anyone who would like to learn more about that or wants to attend, can contact me, but more details will be coming on that," said Thienes. "Age Friendly Saskatchewan is a provincial framework that may be a consideration for us locally to form a longer term committee to address some of the needs that are identified through this committee's work.”
Thienes encourages everyone twho may have questions about the process, or would like to share any ideas or input, to call or text her at 306-294-7383 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jacob Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shaunavon Standard