Volunteering to Address Home Care & Equipment Needs for Seniors & the Disabled – by Nina Nath

“Abled does not mean Enabled. Disabled does not mean less Abled.” – Khang Kijarro Nguyen

Disability has many faces, colors, races, cultures and ages. Seniors and People with Disabilities need and have the right to live independent, loving, caring lives with suitable equipment and support for their type of disability or limitations.

Equipment:
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In today’s advanced technological world, more and more new Equipment is being developed to meet today’s needs. For instance, wheelchairs have advanced to climb stairs, lift the person to reach upper shelves and those that work with brain waves for people who cannot perform anything with their arms, legs, in other words fully disabled to name a few.

Unfortunately, these specialty type of wheelchairs are very expensive and a person on a regular income cannot afford these.

It is great and good that our government provides Special Needs people with second hand common types of equipment. These, however, are not enough. Since there are different types of disabilities unique to the individual, it would be great if equipment suitable to the individual’s disability and safety could be provided, such as cameras installed in their homes and Care Homes for their safety from intruders, criminals and thieves who take advantage of a person’s disability. This would provide more safety, confidence, independence which would increase their self confidence, lead them to participate more in life, instead of combating loneliness, helplessness, low self-esteem, depression and other such negative effects.

The people who make decisions about issues and services affecting People with Disabilities or Seniors should ask themselves how would they feel if they or their loved one was in their shoes every minute of the time? Perhaps this perspective will provide them with some insight, leading them to think outside of the box.  Special Needs People often live near or under the poverty line, so affordability should be a big consideration.

As a volunteer, what can you do? Fortunately, there are funding programs available from the government for volunteers to get the capital required for accessibility projects. For example, the federal government through the Employment and Social Development Department has the Enabling Accessibility Fund, where youth leaders can apply by September 21, 2018 for grants to complete accessibility projects in their community.  In addition, there is another program available for funding accessibility projects:

The Government of Canada is currently accepting applications until July 26, 2018 from eligible applicants interested in receiving grant funding up to $100,000 from the Enabling Accessibility Fund for small projects. This Fund supports the capital costs of construction, renovation and/or retrofit activities in workplacesFootnote 1 and communities, as well as the provision of accessible technologiesFootnote 2in:

  • Workplace stream: facilities where people with disabilities work, or could work in the future; and,
  • Community Accessibility stream: community spacesFootnote 3 where programs and/or services are offered, or will be offered, to people with disabilities.

Home Care:
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This service must be provided for all people with Disabilities and Seniors. This service does encourage these people in many areas of everyday living, thus placing less mental, emotional, and physical pressure on their families. For instance, a family that has to deal with the different emotional pressures of their loved one who is now Disabled or a Senior. When they do home care for this family member, the additional burden can result in illness and inability to work, since the family member has to deal with their own family and financial, emotional anguish and physical exhaustion.

Fortunately, there are volunteer organizations that can provide support, such as Calgary Seniors’ Resource Society. According to their website:

“For over 20 years, Calgary Seniors has been providing much needed and innovative services that prevent and reduce social isolation, and support seniors to live independently to the greatest extent possible.

What makes us so unique is that we effectively combine specialized and registered social workers with volunteers and volunteer programs that work hand-in-hand; not only do we assist in a crisis, but we provide ongoing assistance to ensure seniors are supported appropriately long-term.”

Transportation:
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Currently, our City’s Special Needs transportation system and service has improved, but there is always an opportunity to do more to increase accessibility for Seniors and Disabled People. For instance, when the individual is picked up first, he/she should be dropped off at their destination first as well.

Wheelchairs and scooters or any other vehicles should have a sort of canopy over the sitting area to protect the people from environmental effects. Some wheelchairs can climb stairs and this will eliminate expenses for ramps and chairlifts and special needs handi-buses. The City could save a lot of money, which could be spent on funding equipment and other programs that have been cut.

Local organizations like Loving Hands Partners in Care and A Friend In Deed have been created to address some of these issues.

In closing, this article is for the purpose of increasing awareness and educating people about People with Disabilities and Seniors. Some of the people who use wheelchairs and scooters can also walk a certain distance. There are many other issues that they face and Government and local Non-Profit Organizations should be aware, investigate and come up with solutions. In 2018 and Space Age it is heart breaking to see that many people still have closed minds and hearts. It is time to open up their minds and hearts before jumping to conclusions. Learning never stops.

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