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Plan aims to give Delta seniors more of a voice

A series of actions to address seniors’ issues in Delta are outlined in the new action plan
delta, bc seniors
The draft social action plan suggests the city conduct an inventory of subsidized and supportive housing options for seniors and work with BC Housing and other partners on reducing barriers for vulnerable seniors to access affordable housing.

How can the City of Delta improve the sense of belonging and connections for its seniors?

That’s one of the questions within the draft of Delta’s new Social Action Plan, which also asks how the city can support seniors to age in place and live active lives, as well as enhance community capacity to support vulnerable seniors.

According to the recently released report, between 2006 and 2016, the most significant population increase in Delta was among those between 65-and-84 years of age.

In 2001, seniors comprised only 11 per cent of Delta's population, but by 2016 that increased to almost 19 per cent.

Tsawwassen has a higher proportion of those aged 65 and over compared to Ladner and North Delta, however, North Delta accounts for more than 42 per cent of all senior residents in Delta.

Meanwhile, since 2013, income has decreased by 6.3 per cent for B.C.'s seniors, while close to nine per cent of seniors in Delta live in poverty, comparable to the provincial average poverty rate for seniors.

The report also notes that a large proportion of Delta's low-income seniors is concentrated in North Delta, including up to 22 per cent in select neighbourhoods.

Seniors living on limited incomes have been affected by increased costs of living and limited access to essential services, such as home support.

The report also notes older residents increasingly prefer to stay in their own homes in their own communities and municipalities and the not-for-profit sector play an important role in enabling seniors to age in place.

“As Canadians live longer, older residents with more complex medical needs are entering nursing homes, which puts additional pressure on these facilities. As family structure changes, in 30 years, a typical 85-year old will be less likely than today to be married and have children who can provide care for them. How do we ensure that older residents are supported in Delta, enjoy a good quality of life, and have access to all the resources they need? How do we support frail seniors in Delta who might not have much support from their immediate families? These are the questions to which we are seeking answers,” the report states.

Listing current assets to help seniors including seniors’ centres, Delta’s seniors’ coordinator, service providers and the city’s seniors’ bus program, the proposed action plan outlines challenges and opportunities.

In 2021 consultation sessions, seniors, talked about how they should have more of a voice in the community and a say in the decisions that affect their lives.

Their values should be better recognized and appreciated, the report notes.

Many Delta seniors live independently and are not connected to any community agency or seniors' centres, while Delta's unique geography presents significant challenges to seniors moving around and accessing services in Delta and other communities.

Seniors are also having a hard time finding affordable and accessible housing in Delta.

Delta's new Housing Action Plan identifies affordable housing for seniors as a key priority.

A need for better coordination was also identified.

“During consultations with service providers, some key priorities have emerged, including the need for more culturally-appropriate services for seniors, and better collaboration and coordination between service providers working with seniors,” the report adds.

The proposed action plan lists several proposed strategic priorities to address those issues including forming a Seniors Advisory Committee to provide an opportunity for seniors to inform the city on relevant policies and priorities, as well as conduct a review of city-wide programs and increase programming that builds connections and reduces isolation.

The plan also suggests conducting an overview of public engagement processes to ensure that diverse seniors' voices are represented in various consultations.

The plan also suggests the city considers developing Delta's Age-Friendly City Strategy as well as partner with other levels of government, developers and non-profit housing providers to expand the availability and variety of affordable and supportive housing.

Another suggestion is for the city to conduct a comprehensive review of transportation options available to seniors, identify the gaps and work with other levels of government and community partners to improve mobility for senior residents in Delta.

Among the other potential actions is for the city to establish a city-wide group comprising of service providers, BC Housing, Fraser Health, local Divisions of Family Practice and other levels of government and city departments working with seniors to improve information and resource sharing, enhance safety outcomes and build community capacity to reach and support vulnerable older residents, with a particular focus on vulnerable seniors in North Delta.

The action plan also suggests the city builds on the initial Delta Housing Needs Assessment and develop a Delta Social and Supportive Housing Strategy as well as consider forming a City of Delta Affordable Housing Task Force.