Big Lakes subsidizes home support program

Richard Froese
South Peace News

A home support program offered by Big Lakes County Family and Community Services has now become a subsidized program.

At its regular meeting Sept. 27, council approved to change the home support program to a subsidized program for qualified applicants through an eligible service provider up to $20 per hour for four hours per month with no changes to the 2023 budget.

The program has been offered to Big Lakes and Town of High Prairie residents who require assistance with household cleaning due to illness, age, or medical condition and is eligible for funding from the provincial FCSS grant the County annually receives, says Pat Olansky, director of planning and development.

“The County’s full- time home support position has been recently vacated,” Olansky says.

The position currently provides service to 24 clients, with 16 being permanent.

Olansky says that eight receive services on an “as needed” basis.

“This position is proving to be more and more problematic to fill and when someone is hired, that individual is finding it to be too much for one person due to the large geographical area we serve,” Olansky says.

The County’s two representatives on the FCSS board spoke strongly in favour of the recommendation.

South Sunset House – Gilwood Councillor Ann Stewart says the service is vital for many people.

“It’s really really important to have this position,” Stewart says.

Kinuso Councillor Roberta Hunt says a subsidy would be the most effective option to serve clients.

“It would be good for clients to find their own service provider and then the County could reimburse them,” Hunt says.

She notes most of the clients are in the High Prairie area.

The motion also states that council will review the subsidized concept after six months.

“If it doesn’t work, we can always change it,” Stewart says.

The program aids with home management, housekeeping and home-making services and limited respite care.

Fees associated with the program are based on an income-based sliding scale typically ranging from $7 per hour to $26 per hour, with the average being $12 per hour, Olansky says.

“The purpose of the program is to assist families in time of need by giving support to keep the family together, the home running smoothly and to maintain independence,” Olansky says.

“By providing the service, we help clients remain in their home, improving their quality of life.

The service also helps residents continue to remain in the community and not be forced to move to a larger centre with more amenities.

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