Deltassist is looking to the city to support its seniors programs, after United Way said it will not renew its grant to the organization.
“It’s a real problem,” said Julie Chadwick, executive director of Deltassist.
Chadwick said United Way’s United in Change funding has supported Deltassist’s phone shopping and daily phone support programs, as well as portions of the seniors counselling and information and referral services for years.
The last United in Change funding grant was issued in 2016, and was set to end in 2019. Fifty per cent of the yearly amount will be available in 2019, but funding will be completely eliminated in 2020.
According to an email from United Way president and CEO Michael McKnight, United Way will be re-imagining the United in Change grants to allow the society to be “more adaptable and responsive to local emerging issues.” The organization will be working with communities to figure out how those grants can best be changed.
However, that does mean the money won’t be available to support Deltassist’s seniors’ programs in the meantime.
“We understand that United Way needs to change their direction, so that’s their choice to do that,” she continued. “It’s just going to be affecting us, in that way.”
To fill the need created by the end of the United in Change grant, Deltassist has reached out to the city to add an additional $75,000 per year to its annual grant. Deltassist currently receives $64,000 from the city.
“We provide the main social services in Delta, across the age range,” Chadwick said. “And we have for a long time. And that money has allowed us to [help] a lot of seniors.
“Our population in Delta continues to age,” she continued. “So there’s going to be more people that are going to be needing those services.”
In addition to the request for more funding, Deltassist is also asking the city to help them appeal to the provincial government to increase funding for the province’s Better at Home program. The funding is administered province-wide by United Way to service providers like Deltassist in more than 90 communities.
Over the past six years, this has become Deltassist’s most-needed service for seniors. The program offers non-medical supports such as light housekeeping, basic home repair, yard work and rides to medical appointments for a fee. Seniors on fixed or limited incomes receive subsidized support.
However, there isn’t enough subsidized funding to go around, Chadwick explained.
“There’s a certain amount of funding available for subsidies, and when that runs out, then we can’t take on any more clients,” she said.
This year, Chadwick said, Deltassist has had to reduce services to subsidized seniors, and it has more than 40 new clients on the wait list for subsidies.
Chadwick said Deltassist has talked with local MLAs Ian Paton and Ravi Kahlon about the insufficient funding, and said both will be bringing these concerns to the legislature in the fall. Deltassist has also sent a letter to Delta MP Carla Qualtrough and the B.C. Seniors’ Advocate.
“It costs way more for somebody to go into assisted living,” Chadwick said. “It’s just hugely expensive. So to maintain people in an environment they’re familiar with, that they feel comfortable in … it’s just all around better, as long as it can be done.”
Deltassist sent a letter to council on Aug. 3, requesting the $75,000 increase in financial support and the appeal to the provincial government. Delta staff noted in the correspondence that they are reviewing Deltassist’s requests, and will bring a report to council with their recommendations.