Posts Tagged "seniors"


Open letter outlines Metro Vancouver seniors’ transportation needs

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Three women who are members of a seniors committee pose in front of a SkyTrain.

Brenda Felker (left), Anita Eriksen and Farideh Ghaffarzadeh are members of the seniors advisory committee Seniors on the Move, which released an open letter about transit and transportation on Tuesday, the International Day of the Older Person.

Jennifer Saltman / PNG

Brenda Felker is dreading the day when she won’t be able to use her car to connect with friends and family, and still get where she needs to go.

“That’s huge, losing your licence,” she said. “It scares me that I would lose my independence.”

That is why Felker joined an advisory committee of Seniors on the Move, which represents seniors who use different modes of transportation to get around Metro Vancouver.

On Tuesday, the International Day of the Older Person, the committee released an open letter signed by 225 people outlining changes to the transportation system that would make it more welcoming for seniors. The letter was the culmination of three years of work.

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie said transportation is arguably the most important concern for seniors, and was the focus of a report — which included 15 recommendations — that came out of her office in May 2018.

“Your efforts, I think, are starting to resonate,” Mackenzie told the committee. “I think that local governments, regional governments, provincial governments, federal governments are all understanding this need around transportation and this huge group of people that is growing who can’t drive their cars any longer, but they still need to get out and about.”

Mackenzie noted that at age 65 about 90 per cent of seniors have a driver’s licence in B.C., but that number drops to less than half by age 85.

The letter has suggestions in a number of key areas, including walking, mobility aids, public transit, HandyDART, taxis, transitioning drivers to other transportation modes and volunteer ride programs.

“We think these changes would be a great place to start. Our cities may not have been built for an aging population, but we can adapt them,” said Anita Eriksen, a committee member who gave up her car when she turned 65.

Transit users are looking for a long list of changes, many of which concern bus travel. In addition to real-time information at bus stops and covered bus stops with seating, seniors are looking for drivers who make courtesy announcements, get closer to the curb, and wait for seniors to sit or get stable before leaving a stop.

Accessibility alternatives when elevators and escalators are out of order, and more community shuttles with ramps and kneeling capability are also important.

HandyDART users want a payment system and pricing that integrates with the rest of TransLink, coordination and integration with the medical system and better education about the service.

Kathy Pereira, director of access transit service deliver for Coast Mountain Bus Company, said TransLink is looking to address a number of concerns outlined in the letter, and promised to bring the concerns back to the transit agency.

“We do the things that most people do that are obvious … but sometimes we don’t think far enough. So I think that’s one of the big messages I’ve heard here,” Pereira said. “We’re on the right track, but maybe we’re not going far enough.”

Walkers and those who use mobility aids are looking for better-maintained, wider sidewalks, more benches, better street lighting, functional curb cuts and more time to cross the street.

Drivers looking to leave their cars behind need more information on other ways to get around and resources to make the change, as well as medical services plan coverage for required medical exams.

Taxis need to be given incentives to pick up seniors and those with mobility issues, and seniors need more information about taxi savers.

The letters says there should be ways to assess the fitness of volunteer ride program drivers and the suitability of their vehicles, and there should be standardized training along with more drivers.

Beverley Pitman, the seniors planner at United Way of the Lower Mainland and self-identified “young senior,” called the list of suggestions comprehensive, visionary and highly practical.

“By stepping up and taking this on, in effect you’ve made visible a whole bunch of other seniors who haven’t had the opportunity or maybe are really socially isolated because they don’t have access to at transportation system that enables them to get out and about,” Pitman said.

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East Vancouver seniors fear losing their home to redevelopment

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More than 64 seniors call Alice Saunders House their home — but there are fears a complete renovation to the low income building would force them out.

“This place, to me, is like a small piece of paradise,” said longtime resident Jim Dailey.

Dailey, 80, has lived at Alice Saunders for 16 years.

The retired horse jockey still spends each day at Hastings Racecourse which is currently a 20-minute ride on his scooter.

“I can’t go anywhere else and have the life I’ve got now, that’s for sure,” he said.

On Saturday, residents held a block party to protest plans to redevelop the building.

“The building is aging, and not only is it aging, but it doesn’t have the adequate accessibility requirements for residents in place,” said Carolina Ibara with Brightside Community Homes Foundation.

The non-profit organization helps seniors in BC get into low income housing.

“This is not a for-profit venture, that is not why we are doing this. We are doing this to improve long term lives of our residents,” Ibara said.

The redevelopment plans are in the very early stages and tenants have not yet been given any notice to end tenancy or to relocate at this time.

Another reason for the planned redevelopment is that the building currently does not have an elevator – but residents like Sam Diana said that is not an issue for them.

“What do we need an elevator for, to go to the moon?” said Diana.

Ibara said everyone living here can come back to a new building for the same rent they pay now and a new building would come with 100 affordable units.

Brightside will also provide a relocation coordinator to help residents find a new place to live.

The company has yet to submit a formal rezoning application to the City of Vancouver.

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Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ advocate to step down and review of office

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The B.C. Care Providers Association is calling for the resignation of Isobel Mackenzie, the province’s seniors’ advocate, alleging her relationship with the Hospital Employees’ Union leadership has been too “cosy.”


The B.C. Care Providers Association is calling for the resignation of the province’s seniors’ advocate, alleging her relationship with the Hospital Employees’ Union leadership has been too “cosy.”

In a statement, the association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of the Office of the Seniors’ Advocate.

But seniors’ advocate Isobel Mackenzie says she never did anything inappropriate, adding that consulting and collaborating with stakeholders is part of her mandate.

The association alleges that documents obtained through a freedom of information request show Mackenzie collaborated closely with the Hospital Employees’ Union leadership in shaping a report on the transfer of patients from care homes to hospitals.

The report, called “From Residential Care to Hospital: An Emerging Pattern,” was released in August and followed complaints from emergency room clinicians that some care homes were sending residents to the emergency department unnecessarily.

The association alleges she shared draft language of the report with the union, incorporated its feedback and notified the union of the planned timing of the report’s release.

In contrast, it says the care providers association was never advised in advance by Mackenzie’s office on the release of the report and its members were never notified beforehand of its findings.

“We have tried to work with the seniors’ advocate over the years with mixed results,” it says in a statement.

“The release of this FOI provides us with a disturbing insight into which organization is having the most profound influence over the OSA.”

Mackenzie told The Canadian Press the report was independent from the Hospital Employees’ Union.

“What they’ve chosen to say is, ‘Well she colluded with the HEU on this report,’ to which I’m saying, ‘Well how?’ The results, the methodology, the data sources — it’s all there. That has nothing to do with the HEU,” she said.

She said sharing contents of reports with some stakeholders or members of an opposition party is common practice.

“Everybody does that,” she said.

In the past, Mackenzie said she has shared content from reports that are favourable to the B.C. Care Providers Association in advance and not with the Hospital Employees’ Union.

In this case, she said her office shared contents of the report in advance with health authorities, the union and contracted care providers, which includes members of the B.C. Care Providers Association. She said her office has a relationship with care providers, but no obligation to the industry association.

Mackenzie suggested the association is calling for her resignation because it didn’t like the content of a report that found contracted care providers transfer patients to hospitals more often.

“The B.C. Care Providers took great offence to this report. What’s interesting is when the reports serve their interests, they don’t have this problem,” she said.

Mackenzie said she is not considering resigning.

The association is also calling for a full and independent review of the office.

Unlike other advocates that are independent, such as the B.C. Ombudsperson or the children and youth advocate, the seniors’ advocate reports to the Health Ministry, which couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The association says it also wasn’t consulted on a decision by the B.C. government to move more than 4,000 home support jobs from the private sector to public health authorities, and accused Mackenzie of failing to press the government on that decision.

“Not one question was posed by her to government on their reason for the change, or if any analysis had been provided,” it said.

“For BCCPA, this was a tipping point.”

Mackenzie said she was briefed by the deputy minister and health authorities in advance of the decision and she found there was an argument to be made for the change.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the office’s position under his ministry has never stopped Mackenzie, who was appointed five years ago by the previous Liberal government, from criticizing him or the ministry freely.

“She has criticized the NDP government, the Liberal government, the care providers and just about everyone else in her advocacy,” Dix said Thursday.

Dix said he has personally been on the receiving end of her criticism but he recognizes that’s her mandate and said she does a “good job.”

“If people want to make the argument for a long-term review of what the status of the office should be, that’s something the care providers and everyone else could look at and I think absolutely could be considered,” he said.

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Victoria police seeking thief who stole senior’s electric-assist bike

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Victoria police are looking for a thief who was captured by CCTV cameras stealing a senior’s brand-new electric-assist bike.

The theft happened Tuesday, police said, at an apartment complex in the 600 block of Toronto Street.

The victim, an elderly male, said he had purchased the electric-assist bike only a day prior, and that it was essential to his ability to get around the city.

The stolen bicycle is a black Raleigh Sprite IE Electric, similar to the one pictured below.

The stolen bicycle is a black Raleigh Sprite IE Electric, similar to the one pictured here.

Handout /

Victoria PD

CCTV footage shows the suspect entering a locked bike area via the building’s parking area and making off with the bike.

The suspect is described as a white male in his mid-40s, approximately six feet tall with a slim to medium build. At the time of the theft, he was wearing a blue parka-style jacket, blue jeans, hiking shoes, and a shiny black helmet on top of a dark baseball cap. He was also wearing a large backpack.

Images from the footage have been provided in the hopes that someone might recognize the thief. Anyone who does, or has seen the bike, is asked to contact Victoria police.

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Should B.C. have a ‘Silver Alert’ system for missing seniors?

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Kendra Mangione , CTV Vancouver

Published Tuesday, September 18, 2018 3:15PM PDT

Last Updated Tuesday, September 18, 2018 3:18PM PDT

A local man is continuing his push for a province-wide “Silver Alert” system five years after his father walked away, never to be seen again.

On the anniversary of the disappearance of Shin Noh, his son Sam is again calling for a program that would notify media and the public when a senior with Alzheimer’s or dementia wanders off.

The system he advocates for is similar to Amber Alerts sent out when children are missing.

While the program has yet to be officially implemented, a citizen-created alert system has been developed and is operating on social media.

A website set up by Sam Noh and other volunteers collects donations and raise awareness said the notifications are also sent out if a person has a developmental disability, autism or cognitive defect and has been determined to be at risk of harm because of their condition.

They are sent if the subject has been determined to be a missing person by police and has been gone less than 72 hours.

For now, alerts are only sent out for those missing in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, but the organizers intend to expand to the rest of the province in the future. They will only be sent in cases when public assistance could be critical in saving them from harm, the website said.

The BC Silver Alert system is based on software that scans feeds of local police forces for specific keywords. The software will flag the content and a volunteer will review it, post it online and send out an alert.

Noh said early notification can be crucial, as typically missing Alzheimer’s patients are found by members of the public.

“With an official Silver Alert program we can utilize better technology to quickly spread that word – highway billboard signs, media – but without even the Silver Alert there’s still other tools that we have in our community,” Noh said.

“With the City of Vancouver you can sign up for alerts to receive notification about garbage day pickup. So we have this technology. I would like for us to utilize it.”

BC Silver Alert co-founder and Coquitlam Search and Rescue search manager Michael Coyle said people with dementia are often found on the bus when it goes out of service, or when a restaurant closes, or in other similar situations. They’re rarely located by SAR groups, though officials are active and hopeful during their search efforts.

The cases where the missing person isn’t found stick with them, Coyle said.

“All SAR members I know have a list of names they remember, the people that they didn’t find, and for most of the rest of our lives, when someone finds remains in some location, mentally we’re going through our check list,” he said.

Shin Ik Noh
Shin Noh, a 64-year-old former pastor from Coquitlam, B.C., went missing in September 2013 and has never been found.

Pointing to legislation in other provinces in Canada, those behind BC Silver Alert say they want the notifications to be included in a system tested in B.C. in the spring called Alert Ready. The system sends text messages to smartphone users in event of tsunamis, but will later be expanded to include floods and fire warnings, the province’s public safety minister said.

There is an app being tested in other provinces called Community ASAP which could also have potential to notify residents of a specific area, and to allow them to report sightings to local authorities. Coyle said it will be tested locally in October.

The search for Shin Noh

Noh recalled the day his father disappeared, describing the experience of driving around to Shin’s usual spots as “surreal.”

The longer he searched, the more urgency he felt.

His family called the Coquitlam RCMP, and relatives, friends and neighbours combed the areas where they thought he may be.

“I’m truly grateful, but we sort of felt like we were still alone, that we had to come up with all these search and rescue strategies, so it was frustrating at that time,” he said.

“The search progressed very slowly.”

Coyle was involved in the search for Shin five years ago, and has helped search for several others in similar situations. He said every time SAR groups are alerted to a missing person with Alzheimer’s or dementia, they begin with a similar discussion about where to look.

“In an urban environment, there are just so many places where someone could go. People don’t notice the missing person, they don’t look unusual, they’re just walking along, they won’t be asking for help,” Coyle said.

“Normally for search and rescue we end up looking where people don’t go, in case the person gets stuck or trapped, which happens. So we end up in urban wilderness trails and things like that.”

With Shin’s case specifically, he said he remembers they didn’t have a direction of travel. They knew he walked a route every day, but at any point he may have missed a turn.

“Also because of how long it had been since he’d gone missing, our search area was quite big. He could have walked for hours in any direction.”

But because members of the public are statistically more likely to find missing persons with conditions such as dementia, Coyle said he felt frustrated that there was no system to alert the public early on.

Tips poured in, and there were confirmed sightings of his father, Noh said, but the family didn’t know about them for three days.

“I think if we had the Silver Alert or something similar… we may have been able to follow up with it a lot quicker and he may be home with us today,” Noh said.

Five years later, he said he’s surprised they never found his father’s remains, and that it’s hard not to have been able to give Shin a proper burial.

“I want our community to utilize technology to help current families that are dealing with this and to help future families, because the whole goal is I want to save them the devastation and the grief of what we went through.”

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Shannon Paterson 

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