The Manitoba government is announcing nearly $4.5 million in additional investments in six unique programs that offer high-quality services and foster safe, inclusive and accessible communities, Seniors and Long-term Care Minister Scott Johnston announced Thursday.
In a media release, Johnston said, "Our government is committed to moving the seniors strategy forward quickly to ensure older adults can age in their homes and communities as long as they choose, with convenient access to services that meet their needs and comprehensive supports that enhance their quality of life. In less than a month since launching the seniors strategy, we have already made significant investments in multiple key initiatives."
The Manitoba Association of Senior Communities (MASC) is receiving $25,000 in 2022-23 to support three additional age-friendly hubs, which include key programs and services that support healthy aging within the larger community including senior centres, service clubs, ethnocultural organizations, law enforcement agencies, the business community, places of worship and recreational facilities.
"Older adults want to age in place, in their community," said Connie Newman, executive director, MASC. "The World Health Organization provided the framework for age-friendly communities and this funding will help MASC help communities throughout Manitoba to collaborate on the many opportunities at the local level for aging in the right place."
MASC is also receiving $300,000 in ongoing funding starting in 2023-24 to expand the Age-Friendly Manitoba Initiative, which supports seniors in leading active, socially engaged, independent lives that contribute to healthy aging. The funding will support new and developing age-friendly communities by providing increased resources and tools to better meet the needs of seniors and incorporating ethnocultural and Indigenous perspectives.
The minister noted the initiative will also start exploring the concept of dementia-friendly communities where people living with dementia are understood, respected and supported. These communities will offer an environment where people living with dementia feel more confident in their abilities to contribute to community life, be included in conversations, and have a choice and control over their daily lives.
"It is so important to think about our aging community with a dementia-friendly lens," said Erin Crawford, program director and incoming CEO, Alzheimer Society of Manitoba. "We are pleased the Manitoba government is taking steps to develop its age-friendly initiatives with this in mind. The Alzheimer Society has resources and tools to help community organizations better understand and recognize the needs of people with dementia."
An additional $90,000 in funding will be used to support professional development for approximately 70 organizations and over 100 resource co-ordinators across Manitoba. This funding ensures staff and volunteers working with seniors have comprehensive skills and up-to-date knowledge on current topics including ageism, healthy aging, dementia, board governance and senior safety. The funding will be administered through MASC.
The Support Services to Seniors program is receiving a $2.9 million increase for a total of $15 million in annual funding, which represents a 25 per cent increase. The program promotes a range of co-ordinated, accessible and affordable community-based services to promote the physical, psychological and social health and wellness of seniors to support their ability to remain independent.
"The Support Services to Seniors program encompasses a variety of community-based organizations throughout the province that work towards supporting seniors as they age, providing meaningful and relevant programs," said Susan Sader, executive director, Good Neighbours Active Living Centre. "Providing supports to seniors as they age in the community is an investment towards prevention, keeping seniors out of hospitals and long-term care, and instead helping seniors be healthy, active and connected to others."
As part of Support Services to Seniors, regional health authorities will receive an additional $500,000 to support seniors in navigating and identifying the various community senior services to best meet their needs.
A & O: Support Services for Older Adults Inc. is receiving $70,000 in 2022-23 and $100,000 in ongoing funding in 2023-24 to support the stabilization and expansion of elder-abuse services in Manitoba. The funding will support home safety planning, community awareness and support for victims of crime.
"We are grateful to receive this funding from the Manitoba government, as it will allow the agency to support more older Manitobans in situations of abuse, and increase the awareness of the issue among older people and the community at large," said Amanda Macrae, CEO, A & O: Support Services for Older Adults Inc. "By increasing awareness and education on elder abuse, it will assist older people, and those who care about them to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse, be aware of resources to assist, and provide early intervention."
The Manitoba government is also investing $600,000 in 2022-23 to support the production and distribution of 200,000 Emergency Response Information Kitt (E.R.I.K.) packages. Completed packages are placed on the fridge door, providing a readily available source of essential health-care information that first responders can access in an emergency.
All of these initiatives and programs align with the seven strategic priorities highlighted in the recently released Manitoba, A Great Place to Age: Provincial Seniors Strategy :
- safe, inclusive, accessible communities,
- high-quality services,
- financial security,
- reducing ageism and ableism,
- Indigenous engagement and co-design, and
- collaboration and accountability.
To read the strategy, visit https://gov.mb.ca/seniors/docs/seniors_strategy_2023.pdf