Grantee Highlight

Better at Home puts emergency funding toward ensuring seniors supported in home communities

Ninety-percent of seniors taking part in Better at Home and Active Aging programs say they are more active, engaged and connected as a result.

Healthy Aging by United Way
The Emergency Community Support Fund grant presented by WCF offered Better at Home a chance to increase their medical transportation services. Little did they know, fewer medical appointments would be a symptom of the pandemic.

Well, 2020 has been a year of stretching ourselves. So, why should a grant be any different. Weeks into the pandemic Better at Home’s program coordinator, Christina Rupp, applied for a grant to supplement the transportation side of the Better at Home program offered through Sea to Sky Community Services.

For some time, Better at Home has been offering a personalized door to door transportation service for seniors and elders living in the Sea to Sky Corridor. The goal of the Better at Home program is in the title. Seniors and elders who need support generally have better outcomes when living at home in their own community.

This is especially true for Pemberton and Whistler seniors who could be forced to move long distances, away from their social circles, to find supportive housing or care homes.

Transportation is just a small part of a much bigger program, and yet the value is tremendous

Living in the northern end of the Sea to Sky region presents further challenges due to the lack of, or limited, public transportation opportunities which broadens the spectrum of people accessing the program in comparison to the city where public transportation or a taxi may be satisfactory.

When a Better at Home participant requests transport, it is often for a medical appointment in Vancouver. A volunteer, who is trained to provide assistance right from the door step to the check in desk, will then drive the local community member to the city.

Those visits can require Better at Home participants (volunteers and seniors) to bunk in the city should the road become a challenge or there are multiple appointments scheduled back-to-back. Better at Home then provides a stipend for gas or hotel. And that’s what the grant was intended for.

As it turns out, surgeries and procedures were postponed well into May. And then there was an enormous influx of procedures in June onward. But people with non-urgent elective surgeries and procedures either weren’t booked or in much of a hurry to get into a hospital.

Cleaning services and snow removal can make a big difference too

And as folks opted out of city care, it looked like the transportation program wouldn’t need the boost of an Emergency Community Support Fund Grant.

We’re happy to say, the grant was flexible.

So as summer went on, we saw fewer cases in BC, and folks started to get back to a small sense of normality (although, we know it was brief). And in that period, it became obvious that cleaning services were something that would benefit seniors — and put local cleaners back to work.

The funding was applied to this long-offered service, under new safety driving guidelines; and it has been successful. While we haven’t seen much snow, the funding can also be applied to snow removal services which are invaluable in giving seniors the opportunity to get out of the house to enjoy nature or run errands.

Growth in awareness of the program is an unexpected outcome of the pandemic. And Christina reports that many seniors and elders in the program are much happier to be in their own homes at a time like this. Plus, the pandemic most certainly highlighted that many seniors do better with social connections. Christina reminded me that even a quick phone call can make a difference.

About this story

Mid December 2020, Christina Rupp, Better at Home Coordinator at Sea to Sky Community Services connected with Lisa Severn, Communications and Community Engagement Coordinator at Whistler Community Foundation for a conversation, and resulting story, about the pandemic and the ECSF Grant: $4,500 was invested to fund Whistler and Pemberton Area Better at Home support services support services which “help seniors with simple non-medical day-to-day tasks, making it easier for them to stay in their own homes, remain independent, socialize and stay connected to their community”.

senior on the phone

Make a gift to the Community Fund

To ensure vital work in the community can continue, please consider making a monthly donation to the Community Fund.

The Community Fund supports emerging community needs in Whistler and Pemberton areas through granting to charities that serve to support the health and safety of community members.

Volunteer with Better at Home

Better at Home needs volunteers in Squamish, Pemberton and Whistler who have a few hours to spare. Find an application form at sscs.ca

Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF)

Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF), including Round 1 and 2 are now complete. Watch our Grants page for future granting opportunities.

Whistler Community Foundation is proud to have partnered with Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) and the Government of Canada to deliver the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) in Whistler. 

Launched on May 19, 2020, we’ve invested $70,000.00 through the ECSF, and since March 2020 and additional investment of $89,545 was made from the Emergency Fund. We are pleased to announce that 17 projects (9 ESCF and 8 Emergency Fund), designed by local charities and qualified donees supporting populations experiencing heightened vulnerability during this crisis, received emergency funding.

ECSF Partners​

Community Foundations of Canada logo
Whistler Community Foundation Logo