Seniors’ social profit works to end elder abuse

By VERNA MURPHY, Connect Contributor

Senior Advocates, Pam Burns on the left, and Heather Landeen of St. Aidan's are working towards a new model for the seniors of Fort McMurray. SUPPLIED PHOTO

Senior Advocates, Pam Burns on the left, and Heather Landeen of St. Aidan’s are working towards a new model for the seniors of Fort McMurray. SUPPLIED PHOTO

It is estimated that about 25 per cent of the crimes committed against our seniors in Canada are by family members, and because of this and guilt and shame, many seniors suffer in silence.

Elder Abuse is on the rise in Canada, but many cases are still going unreported because the abusers are usually a loved one of the senior who is being abused. Abuse can be mental, physical, financial, sexual and senior neglect is also a huge issue across Canada.

Locally St. Aidan’s is building a model that will work not only with the seniors of our community, but also their caregivers and their families. Pam Burns, a Seniors Advocate, was hired by the local social profit group to coordinate a community response plan for elder abuse in Fort McMurray.

While other cities in Canada took a few years to get similar programs up and running, St. Aidan’s has the start date of March 2017 for their program. Even with that timeline, it will take the commitment of many groups in town to come together to make it work.

“We created a list of important groups that we think need to be part of this plan,” said Pam Burns during a recent interview at their new location in the Red Poll Centre in Shell Place.

“We created a list of important groups that we think need to be part of this plan,” said Burns during a recent interview at their new location in the Red Poll Centre in Shell Place. These groups and organizations are being invited to a meeting so they can be presented all the information and they can then decide if they will be part of the working committee moving forward.

Luana Bussieres, the executive director said that there is a healthy social profit group in Fort McMurray that is vested in collaboration and they understand the needs of the different demographics in town. Given all of that, Bussieres said that while it is an ambitious plan, it is absolutely attainable.

Burns hopes that groups including Golden Years, Victim Services, Home Care, the fire department, McMan Services, Support Through Housing, the municipality, as well as other interested individuals and groups will all coordinate to get this service up and running for our seniors.

“We share very similar outcomes with all these groups. I think most of us working with seniors share kind of a long term impact of creating an inclusive community that benefits from senior participation,” said Bussieres. Anyone who touches the lives of seniors are welcome to the come to the table with St. Aidan’s, and they encourage anyone who is interested to get in touch with them so they can be sent an invite.

Some studies have been done locally by companies of their retiring employees, and there is an increase in the number of people who are saying that they will stay in Fort McMurray as they retire. More and more people have their children and grandchildren living here, so they too decide to stay in the community. Burns believes that they are in a position where they are preparing for dealing with this older section of our population.

Once the model is in place, a neighbour, relative or friend can call a number to report elder abuse, and there will be protection for the senior. But apart from that there will various supports in place for long term protection, care giver stress, and support for the senior as they move forward in their environment. This is a bit harder to do with seniors over say a child who would be protected by Children Services.

Bussieres believes that there is growing number of seniors that are isolated in Fort McMurray, and that they are not being heard from. During the upcoming Fort McMurray Tourism’s Fall Trade Show they hope to show some of the services that are available to those seniors in the community.  There will be one area designated for all the senior resources to be featured during the show, which will be held at MacDonald Island on September 25-27, 2015.

Heather Landeen is another member of the St. Aidan’s team, and over the last few months she has been working on a huge resource for the seniors for our community. It will be an online central repository of information for everyone, including caregivers and seniors that will list all the services that seniors might want or need on a daily basis, including Provincial and Federal services.

“Our goal is to have the book published twice a year, as well as having it available online, and it will be very senior friendly,” said Heather Landeen.

“Our goal is to have the book published twice a year, as well as having it available online, and it will be very senior friendly,” said Landeen, who said that the idea grew from the online idea. The book should be available in hard copy during the trade show.

Bussieres hopes that Landeen will have a project next year like an Adopt a Grandparent, or a visitation program of some sort, which will engage the community as well as the seniors in our community. For more information, or if your group is interested in attending the information session with St. Aidan’s, contact Pam Burns at 780-215-8028 or email pamb@staidanssociety.ca.

– Connect Weekly-