Aging British Columbians
Managing the complex and chronic health care needs of our growing elderly population has the potential to overburden the provincial health care system. The number of seniors in BC is growing dramatically and this is heralding a need to direct more support towards helping our parents and grandparents age in place with access to high-quality, tailored and holistic health services.
Philanthropy is the Catalyst
Philanthropic dollars are a catalyst in bringing attention to less visible but increasingly important challenges facing our seniors, particularly those who have complex health care needs. There is, at any given time, several hundred seniors requiring services and care delivered by Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). VCH is a leader in geriatric medicine. Over the last decade the Health Authority has responded to the dramatic increase in the number of seniors requiring skilled medical care by establishing specialized programs and services across the continuum. Health care providers who work with the older adult population consider psychological, social and spiritual dimensions together with functional and environmental assessments when treating patients. Keeping sight of the holistic picture is especially important when caring for the older population, as these patients generally face more than one disease or condition and may find themselves need help both in the hospital and beyond its walls.
The Geriatric Health campaign seeks to raise funds for two unique initiatives (one in the hospital and the other in community), both aiming to provide better care and support for frail elderly experiencing cognitive challenges as a result of mental health concerns and/or dementia in addition to other physical health issues. These funds will be used to pilot and test new interventions that engage and empower this population group.
- In the hospital: we will pilot a recreation therapy program in a purpose-built space to decrease isolation and increase social stimulation for patients who are hospitalized; we will also provide funding towards Care Aides for patients requiring 1:1 care.
- In the community: we will pilot a therapeutic day program (Bright Start) for high-need seniors with the goal of stabilizing their conditions and transitioning them into other existing programs.
Both the initiatives presented herein focus on reaching the most vulnerable seniors in our communities. They were also envisioned around the same core principle – a low tech, high touch approach is most effective at supporting the comorbidities these individuals face. Thank you for supporting the thoughtful planning and extraordinary collaborative leadership of our health care teams. They are excited to move forward and demonstrate the impact of these projects.