SUNDRE — Greenwood Neighbourhood Place Society is among 16 non-profit organizations throughout Alberta to receive a slice from a $750,000 grant to support elder abuse prevention initiatives.
The provincial government allocated the funds to the Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council with the objective of providing additional support for community elder abuse prevention and intervention initiatives, according to a June 15 press release.
The bulk of that funding — approximately $650,000 — will assist coordinated community response (CCR) programs to increase support for seniors who are subjected to abuse.
The society was earmarked to receive a $15,950 boost to prior funding that facilitated the development of a local initiative over the past couple of years, which before to the pandemic included an information session at the Sundre Seniors Supportive Living centre.
CCR initiatives are locally developed in partnership with a variety of stakeholders including municipal governments, non-profit organizations, businesses, health service providers as well as police departments, the release states.
“The council will use the remaining funding to provide ongoing support for grant recipients, explore best practices for data collection, and provide enhanced elder abuse awareness training for service providers and responders,” reads a portion of the press release.
Although signs of physical abuse are generally more obvious, seniors are also susceptible to less noticeable forms of mistreatment, including but not limited to financial, psychological as well as neglect.
“Seniors built this province,” Josephine Pon, minister of Seniors and Housing, said in the statement.
“Unfortunately, they are not always treated with the respect they deserve. Elder abuse is not acceptable, for anyone, and in any form,” Pon said.
Sundre councillor Richard Warnock -- who is also a volunteer with the Seniors Protected and Respected Under Community Engagement (S.P.R.U.C.E.) committee, which now operates as the umbrella organization over the local CCR initiative and a program called It's Not Right -- said previous grant funding that helped launch the program covered the cost of producing promotional rack and pocket cards.
The informational materials, added Warnock, will feature not only phone numbers to resources that can provide assistance to seniors, but also outline the tell tale signs of the different kinds of elder abuse that members of the community are encouraged to keep an eye out for.
Once pandemic protocols are further relaxed, the rack cards will be displayed and available at local businesses like the grocery store while pocket cards will distributed around the community, he said.
The provincial government says it also plans to engage with stakeholders and Albertans on elder abuse.
“This dialogue is intended to update elder abuse responses through better understanding, recognition and prevention at the community level,” states the release.
“The first step will be to seek input on a revised provincial definition of elder abuse. Stakeholder engagements will take place over the next few weeks and a public engagement will launch later this year.”
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was observed on Tuesday, June 15. Due to bad weather that day, a custom-made flag draped in in purple — the day’s official colour — was the following afternoon unfurled and flown in front of the municipal office alongside the Alberta and Canada banners until Thursday, June 17.
“This was our own idea,” said Warnock.
“It’s the first one that I’m aware of that’s been produced, and hopefully others will do it in the future,” he said about the flag.
Next year, he said the flag will — provided the weather cooperates — be flown on the official World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and subsequently be made available to the schools and businesses to take turns displaying the banner throughout the rest of the week.
“That’s the goal of the flag, is just for awareness,” he said,
Other recipients of the grant included the Enoch Cree Nation and Stony Plain Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), which were both awarded $50,000, while Siksika Health Services got $46,000. Hinton FCSS was allocated $21,768, and St. Albert’s Stop Abuse in Families received $20,000.