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Broader Horizons shutting down for the summer due to staffing shortage

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
June 19th, 2015

There is a concern among the senior population over the closure of Broader Horizons Adult Daycare Centre.

In a letter to a user of the program, Cydney Higgins, Community Integration Services Manager, told Glenway Backus: “Sadly, I am writing to inform you that we are currently experiencing staffing shortage for our Adult Daycare Broader Horizons in Nelson.”

“This means that we will need to close the program at least temporarily for the months of July and August. The last day of the program will be open is June 30, 2015.”

For Glenway, who has Parkinson’s Disease, and his wife Gretchen, the closure could not have come at a worse time.

“I can get (Glenway) to the gym, I can get him to church but I can’t provide for him what Broader Horizons does,” a distressed Gretchen Backus told The Nelson Daily.

When her husband attends Broader Horizons Wednesdays, Gretchen has an opportunity to shop for groceries, do the family banking and get those necessary errands done during the three-and-a-half hour time period.

“When you have Parkinsons your life gets narrower and Broader Horizons provides him with a place to socially interact,” Gretchen Backus said.

“Emotionally, socially and physically, Broader Horizons is important for the both of us.”

Now Gretchen, Glenway and dozens of other Nelson residents like them are facing the prospect of losing this important service because the Interior Health Authority (IHA) that operates Broader Horizons has announced the program will be shutting down.

“They have a wonderful program there and some wonderful staff,” Gretchen says.

“It gives seniors a chance to spend time with other people who have some type of aging infirmity. They have a good time.”

The Backus’s got the news in the mail earlier this month, via June 8 letter stating that the program is shutting down for the summer due to a staffing shortage.

“These people have a chance at some dignity and a life in their senior years, in spite of the aging infirmities that are going on. There are younger people that drop off their parents and leave them at the daycare because they know they get mental, social and emotional stimulation there.”

According to IHA administrator, Cheryl Whittleton, the staffing shortage is a result of a lack of qualified staff available.

Whittleton said the two care aide positions for the Broader Horizons program are currently vacant and there are no casual staff to support it, while another staff member will be away in July.

“We are actively recruiting – but, to date, have not been able to fill these positions,” Whittleton said.

“Part of the challenge is that, in addition to needing their care aide certification, a good knowledge of the community and an ability to work with the elderly, this position requires a Class 4 driver’s license because various outings are part of Broader Horizons’ programming.”

“Interior Health continues to recruit,” Whittleton adds. 

“There is a care aide program at Selkirk College and we work closely with the college in highlighting opportunities with Interior Health, including the positions with Broader Horizons.”

For Gretchen Backus, the program is a vital one in the community for both elders and caregivers, and as such she feels the community should step in and try to help keep it going.

She points to other efforts by the community to bring doctors to the area, and feels a similar effort is needed to help keep the Broader Horizons program up and running in Nelson.

“This service is vital and there’s a problem having it continue,” said Gretchen Backus, who has contact Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak about the problem.

“So, as a community, what can we do to solve this problem, to see that this program continues?”

In the meantime, Whittleton says IHA case managers will be speaking to clients who participate in the program to look at alternative supports they may need over the next two months while Broader Horizons is not operating.

Categories: Health

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