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Glen Abernethy – Our Elders: Our Communities

Glen Abernethy - Official PortraitMr. Speaker, every day, seniors across the NWT make important contributions to their families, their friends and their communities.

We don’t always give them the credit they deserve, but recognizing June as Seniors’ Month in the Northwest Territories and June 15th as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is one way to show our appreciation to NWT seniors.

Today, we are wearing purple boutonnieres to raise awareness about elder abuse and its many forms – financial, emotional and physical. I would like to welcome and recognize members of the NWT Seniors’ Society and the Yellowknife Seniors’ Society present in the gallery today.

Seniors and Elders are important keepers of traditions and culture. They are a valued source of wisdom and guidance, and are role models and mentors for younger generations.

Elders and seniors should be given the best care possible and our government is committed to meeting their healthcare and social needs. Partnerships with seniors’ groups help to ensure seniors receive the support they need.

Mr. Speaker, seniors are the fastest growing population in the NWT. In the past decade, the seniors’ demographic has grown at a rate of more than five per cent per year.

A goal of the Department of Health and Social Services is to enhance the continuum of care to ensure seniors remain independent and in their own homes and their own communities for as long as possible. We know that providing home and community care services for seniors reduces the demand for long term and acute care, and helps seniors maintain their quality of life.   We all benefit when our Elders are able to remain active and independent members of community life.

The GNWT already offers a range of programs and services that help seniors live independently, including Home Care, seniors’ housing, and the Extended Health Benefits program for seniors.  Home support is already available in every NWT community, and home nursing is available in communities with nursing staff.  The Department is also working with the NWT Housing Corporation to address independent housing needs in NWT communities.

However Mr. Speaker, we know that as this segment of the population grows, we will need to change the way we offer services.  After an extensive review of continuing care services in the NWT which helped identify needs, best practices and system gaps, we have developed a strategic framework which outlines the broad principles that will guide how we design and deliver programs and services in the future.  The framework document Our Elders: Our Communities, outlines seven priorities for healthy and active aging.  These priorities include:

o   Ensuring that we continue to deliver home and community care services that meet the needs of Elders and communities;

o   Making sure that services are integrated and coordinated;

o   Recognizing that we need to support caregivers;

o   Working with our communities to ensure that they are responsive to the needs of their Elders and seniors;

o   Providing accessible and current information to seniors and their families; and

o   Continuing to explore and implement sustainable best practices.

Encouraging healthy and active aging promotes independent livingand allows Elders to contribute their knowledge and wisdom within their community. This benefits everyone.

This approach also supports a sustainable health system by increasing community supports, which reduces the need for acute care services and long term care beds; and it helps to achieve our vision of ensuring the Best Health, Best Care and a Better Future for our residents.

Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time, I will be tabling the document Our Elders: Our Communities.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.