We need to steer seniors’ ship in Wakefield, Quebec

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by admin on November 4, 2009

By Carol Faulkner

It is wonderful to see the new seniors’ residence finally being built in Wakefield, Quebec and congratulations are in order to the many volunteers and politicians who worked on this dream for well over a decade.  As with many of the community assets in Wakefield, the residence came to fruition as a result of the vision and the hard work of  a team of dedicated individuals.

The role of the team has diminished in recent years as government funding requirements defined new parameters and mainly required it to participate in the important task of fund raising.  The question now is how do we regain our status as being the soul of this development and influence meeting the grass root needs of the seniors in our community? There are two  representatives from Wakefield on the Cooperative development de La Pềche along with bureaucrats and politicians who are making decisions which have to apply equally to the needs of Masham and Wakefield.  There should be room for creative differences and community consultation.  Now that the physical structure is nearly in place, it is time to have an open discussion as to how the residence is run.

In the latest edition of The Low Down we are given the priorities for entry into the residence.  The last priority is for former residents of La  Pềche wishing to return.  Well, when we were getting this project off the ground we were asked to interview potential residents and to obtain their commitment to the project.  Due to the lengthy delays, we had to reinterview these people  and again justify the need for the residence.

Although some of the potential residents wondered if they would still be alive by the time that we got the project off the ground, the interviews certainly demonstrated a high demand for small independent living rental apartments. Some of the original applicants had to move out of the municipality as there was no place for them to live and now, if they want to return, they are the lowest on the priority list.

I feel a commitment to the people who I interviewed, whether or not they are still in the municipality, as they were the statistics that allowed us to proceed! Some have lived most of their lives here.

The other distressing fact mentioned by the Low Down is that  one of the 12 precious units is going to a caretaker “who still can be employed full-time” and is available “in case of emergencies”.  Well, emergencies do not always happen after hours and anyhow this is an independent living place on 911 and within two minutes of the hospital and the police and fire stations. The skills of a caretaker and  an emergency on-call worker are quite different.  Without going into great detail, these responsibilities can be met through contract workers, residents and/or an effective volunteer program. The 12 unit  should go to a senior or a senior couple for whom it was intended.

It is understood that certain concessions had to made in order to get this project off the ground. However, it is time for us to step up to the plate and ensure that common sense and local needs guide us ahead. There must be provisions for local policy input rather than being held hostage to province-wide needs  for uniformity.

Carol Faulkner is a past member of the Wakefield Seniors’ Independent Living Committee.