The launch of Senior Watch Old Ottawa South and publication of our column has generated exactly the kind of response we need to further determine the direction we need to go.
On May 1st, 2018, at OSCA’s AGM, I gained a seat on OSCA’s Board. The new Board will meet on May 15th and there I will start to provide the senior’s perspective on issues that will be discussed. Finance, Communications, Planning and Zoning, Programming, Traffic and Safety are recurring agenda items that I will contribute to.
In order for Senior Watch to become a sub-committee of the Board, we first need to determine our Terms of Reference and then table a motion at a future Board meeting to request that Senior Watch becomes a separate sub-committee of the Board. So first we have to complete the preparatory work and a meeting to determine more concretely what our focus will be.
Two members of our steering committee already met with representatives of the Traffic and Safety Committee to determine how best to work together to amplify efforts that overlap. For example, winter walkability and safer pedestrian crossing lights are mutual concerns. Similar links need to be forged with the Planning and Zoning Committee and other committees. Linking and collaboration will happen as the need arises.
Considering the need to focus on the health aspect of age friendly communities, I contacted the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) in order to find out what concrete plans are being developed for Old Ottawa South. The LHINs are health authorities responsible for the regional administration of public health services in Ontario. I was referred to Eric Partington, who is the Director of the Central Ottawa Champlain LHIN.
Mr. Partington responded within hours to my enquiry and informed me that the LHIN’s new list of priorities includes better accessibility to lower back pain clinics, as well as a “health links” approach. I don’t know what a “health link” approach is, but Mr. Partington went on to welcome the suggestions of providing Old Ottawa South residents with more readily accessible information about health services that are already available and to develop the opportunity to consult locally with a public health nurse. At the end of May, he will present to a meeting with Public Health the idea of direct collaboration with Old Ottawa South! Hopefully, this collaboration will help our residents to present their concerns directly to the people in charge of our health care needs at home and advocate for change.
I was surprised to learn that this year, the Provincial Government created the Ministry of Senior Affairs headed by Dipika Damerla. This ministry launched “Aging with Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors”. This plan encourages collaboration between community partners and residents, and this is exactly what I experienced when I contacted the LHIN!
We have to realise that 93% of us seniors live in private households, though 15% of these seniors have “fair” to “poor” health and 25% of seniors feel isolated: who here in Old Ottawa South belong to those categories? And will we belong to those categories one day?
Upon reading the report, I conclude that throughout the province there are many projects, from free “Exercise and Falls Prevention” classes, to more spending in home care and helping people with dementia and those who care for them. But, here in Old Ottawa South, I’m not aware of an overall action plan, so we can “age with confidence”. The Province’s Sinha Report “Living Stronger, Living Well” offers 169 recommendations! Which ones apply to Old Ottawa South residents and should be implemented?
One local resident wrote in to suggest we organise volunteers to help seniors with little chores such as changing light bulbs and mowing lawns. I know Abbotsford House does provide Home Maintenance and Repair Services (call 613-230-5730) at about $25/hour, but should we also link volunteers with seniors? Other residents keep suggesting we need suitable seniors housing, but not a for-profit retirement home, like in the Glebe.