Steinbach seniors will benefit from a $3.3 million pilot program announced this week by the province. 

This will provide new care options that will be tailored to the health needs of clients, support wellness and independence in their own home. 

Audrey Harder, Executive Director at the Pat Porter Active Living Centre, says the goal is to help seniors remain in their own homes as long as possible, rather than moving to a care facility. 

“It’s for people who go into hospital and their care now may exceed what can be handled in their home,” she explains. “There are times when people get put directly into a care home then because there are no other options. This is adding another option. So, adding more supports for the home so that the person can go home and remain in their home with the people they love and with things that are familiar to them, and just have a great life experience.” 

Harder says this program will enhance in-home supports like nursing therapy, personal care support, and respite options. 

In January 2022, MLA Scott Johnston, Minister of Seniors and Long-term Care, visited the Pat Porter Active Living Centre to hear ideas from seniors. 

“We had a whole bunch of people there, able to give him input about what they wanted in their lives, and one of the biggest things was to remain in their home for as long as possible, all the way till the end sometimes. And it seems like they really heard that.” 

The pilot program is expected to launch in spring of 2024 and will provide support to 200 clients at a time once it is fully implemented, said Minister Johnston on Tuesday. The request for proposals for service providers will be posted in the coming weeks. 

Steinbach has been selected as one of the communities to participate in this pilot program, along with Selkirk, Beausejour, Brandon, and Portage la Prairie. 

To be eligible for this program, individuals need to be from these communities and have completed treatment in hospital but cannot safely return home with existing services, or are living in the community and are at risk for premature placement in a personal care home. 

Access to this new model of service will require an assessment of participants’ health needs by regional health authority clinicians. Clients will be empowered to select care options from a broad basket of services provided by approved agencies. 

Service providers will work with participants to develop care plans and either provide services directly or co-ordinate the delivery of services by other agencies in collaboration with the client. 

Harder was invited to speak at the announcement on Tuesday at the Legislature where she talked about the importance of providing services that are tailored to each individual. 

“We often talk about systems and services, and we miss talking about the people,” she said. “In theory, we prepare one or two types of programs and systems that we hope will encompass all people. If that was the way we made clothing, it would not work. We don’t make the person fit the clothing; we make the clothing to fit the person. It is no different when it comes to services and supports; we all have different, individual needs. 

“This initiative has the potential to provide flexibility for people, who have historically been unheard and/or have been required to transition into personal care homes for ease of providing needed supports in congregate settings, which at times may not be in their own community. This is not the only way. I am pleased that this has been acknowledged and that there is movement toward creating a stronger, healthier community through client-delivered individualized supports.”

Harder says it was a huge honour to be invited to speak at the Legislature, especially for an announcement that will have a positive impact on older adults in Steinbach and throughout the province.