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Innisfail seniors are now better connected

Community Partners in Action brings in program with new high-technology to support older citizens through the pandemic
MVT Seniors program grant
Rhiannon Evans, a summer student for the town and for the Community Partners in Action (right), offered technical support to seniors Ron and Judi Petersen at Snowberry Downs condominiums following the installation of a new TV. Submitted photo

INNISFAIL – Hundreds of pandemic weary and isolated seniors are now better connected outside their homes through a Community Partners in Action project that provided their living and leisure communities with state-of-the-art technology.

The project, funded through a $25,000 grant from the federal New Horizons for Seniors Program, will support seniors residing at the Beverly Cove and Snowberry Downs condominium complexes, as well as those living at Country Manor and Dodd’s Lake Manor.

The project is also benefiting Innisfail’s older citizens utilizing the facilities at the Innisfail Senior’s Drop-In Society, Innisfail United Church, Innisfail Public Library and the Innisfail Library/Learning Centre.

The Community Partners in Action team, which includes Wolf Creek Primary Care Network, Alberta Health Services, Town of Innisfail and Innisfail Family and Community Support Service, used $18,000 from the $25,000 grant to purchase nine, 65-inch Smart TVs, nine iPads and cases, stands, and wall mounts - all installed at no cost to each living and leisure location.

The rest of the grant will be used to support other local programs, including art supplies for Art from the Heart, program supplies and games for the Memory Café, and winter shoe spikes and walking poles for Steady Steps.

Ellen Helgason, a recreation therapist for Alberta Health Services and a member of the Community Partners in Action, said the new program was designed for the hundreds of local seniors living in local condominiums who may be having difficulties connecting to the community, especially during the pandemic.

“It also helps to connect people with their families if they choose to do so, to stay active, to decrease that potential of social isolation, which again the pandemic definitely brought into focus for our Community Partners in Action team,” said Helgason.

“We were concerned about those individuals because things unfortunately were closed in the community,” she added. “How do we keep them connected? How do we keep them engaged?”

Helgason said discussions began with condo owners last April to see if they were interested in the items and tech support. Once an agreement was secured, project officials worked in partnership with each condo community to bring in the new technology.

“These TVs were placed in community senior’s apartments and condos to support people living there to connect with Innisfail Connects programming, to connect with other online opportunities, or to connect with family and friends on a larger screen,” said Helgason. “Other locations included were places that run programs for Innisfail Connects or who provide educational opportunities to the community.”

Helgason said the Community Partners in Action ensured free installation through Best Buy. She said the tech support was provided by the Henday Association for Lifelong Learning, who came in after everything was up and running at each location to teach seniors how to use the system on their own.

“Those ladies have been fantastic in helping those locations and the people living there to really feel comfortable about going online as sometimes technology is on the scary side for our older population,” she said, adding the last television was installed in October.

Helgason noted residents from at least one local condominium community, Snowberry Downs, are now using their new technology to attend different programs through Innisfail Connects.

“They got the system all figured out and we are happy they are using it,” she said.

Johnnie Bachusky

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