Life Health

NDP fund Altona's 24/7 supervised living program

Greg Vandermeulen

ALTONA - It's been described as exactly the kind of program needed in Manitoba by Premier Greg Selinger, and as the three year 24/7 supervised living program comes to the end of their local funding, the province has stepped up.

Altona's Ebenezer Home board chair David Wiebe made the announcement during the community worship service at the Manitoba Sunflower Festival.

"Last week we received official notice that the Department of Health has agreed to fun our program (through the RHA)," he said to a burst of applause.

Ebenezer Home is no stranger to coming up with innovative ways to offer services to seniors. In 2000 they came up with a program that also offered meals. But by 2007 they realized they needed more.

"We were faced with having to ask some residents to leave because they could not live independently," Wiebe said.

Many of those people had nowhere to go, with no care home beds available. They also didn't require that level of care, but only needed supervision.

"Our church stakeholders challenged us to come up with a plan to look after people who really only needed safety, security and a bit of supervision ," Wiebe said.

The board came up with 24/7 supervised living, raising $500,000 from local churches and people in the community.

The three year pilot project began in August, 2008, but the board always knew for it to be successful government funding would have to come.

"We were not going back to churches and the community for more funding," Wiebe said.

Premier Greg Selinger visited the community in July, 2010, expressing his support. In December, minister of housing, Kerri Irvin-Ross visited and liked the program. In May, Theresa Oswald, minister of health called the program "visionary".

Since word of the unique program has spread, Wiebe said they've been fielding calls from other towns in Manitoba about how they got it started. "It takes pressure off the hospital and care home," he said. "This doesn't quite fit with any current government program in place, but we see it as a model that could certainly work in other communities as well."

Wiebe said they've always believed it could work. "We thought it was a good idea in 2007," he said. "As soon as we implemented the program, we knew it was a good idea."