Action plan builds on existing supports for seniors
The health and wellness of Island seniors is a top priority for the provincial government that a historic new action plan will help to enhance.
The province today (May 24) released the first-ever Promoting Wellness, Preserving Health: A Provincial Action Plan for Seniors, Near Seniors, and Caregivers, which will be enacted over the next three years. Seniors make up 19.4 percent of the Island population today, which will rise to 24 percent by 2025.
“Prince Edward Island has a great foundation of supports that benefits seniors; however, there is important work that needs to be done to meet the needs of older Islanders and to sustain their health and wellness,” Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell said. “The way forward begins with understanding where we are and determining where we need to be – this action plan will build on existing strengths and partnerships and make our health and wellness system better and more sustainable for Island seniors today and tomorrow.”
Government worked with over 250 seniors, near seniors, and caregivers over the past year to learn about their experiences and hear their vision on how to enhance the wellness of aging Islanders.
“I believe that hearing directly from seniors about their needs related to living healthy, fulfilling lives is extremely important,” said Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy. “This action plan was developed through a very collaborative process and provides help to guide future decisions and investments for meeting the current and changing needs of seniors in Prince Edward Island.”
The action plan clearly lays out four priority pillars -- each with accompanying recommendations -- for a total of 38 recommended action items.
The priority pillars are:
1. develop and implement “Home First” age-in-place initiatives;
2. incorporate an age-friendly approach to communities, housing, workforce, and health care facilities;
3. address ageism and support active aging; and
4. support upstream endeavours that address the social determinants of health.
The recommended action items include such things as:
• exploring ways to enhance support for informal caregivers and increase utilization of respite services;
• developing programs that educate employers about the advantages of hiring and retaining older workers, and provide enhanced support for seniors in finding employment opportunities;
• recognizing communities that are age-friendly, and work to ensure similar initiatives are in place within our health facilities;
• supporting seniors in becoming more active and socially involved;
• enhancing specialized geriatric and dementia training for health care providers;
• exploring innovative housing options and invest in new seniors housing units; and
• increasing access to long-term care by adding 100 new long-term care beds over the next two years and undertaking a comprehensive analysis of future long-term care needs.
“Seniors health is a big issue and getting bigger. It’s important we have a plan in place,” President of the P.E.I. Senior Citizens' Federation Donald Sanderson said. “The Department of Health has worked on this plan for over a year and we are grateful for their efforts. We want to thank government for supporting Island seniors and hope this plan will address the present and future health needs of seniors.
The action plan also recommends creating an implementation council with a strong voice from community champions.
For a full copy of the action plan visit www.princeedwardisland.ca/seniors-health.
Promoting Wellness, Preserving Health – A Provincial Action Plan for Seniors, Near Seniors and Caregivers Living on Prince Edward Island is the first of its kind for the province.
Over the past year over 250 Islanders have been part of the consultation process and advisory network providing input in the action plan. After thorough research and consultation, the following vision and mission were established to guide the province’s work in promotion wellness and preserving health for Island seniors.
Vision: An age-friendly health and social system that promotes wellness and preserves health
Mission: Island seniors will be empowered, respected, valued and socially connected with an upstream and age-friendly system. Islanders will live in a province that promotes wellness and preserves health.
Several methodologies were used to seek community input and research best practices in the area of seniors health and well being, all of which are outlined in the plan.
It is important to have a provincial action plan for the province in order to ensure that health and social policy and practice is being organized strategically by the evidence-based framework grounded in the voices of Island seniors, near seniors, and caregivers, and taken into account the diverse experiences and reality of all Islanders.
The action plan also lays out a plan for implementing the plan, including the creation of an implementation council. This council would be made up of both government and non-government individuals, and incorporate community champions as well as the continued voice of seniors, near seniors and caregivers.