Martin C. Barry
Since opening in May this year, the Agape English-Speaking Senior Wellness Centre has expanded its contacts with senior citizens in Laval who are breaking out of their isolation while benefiting from the centre’s growing list of programs and referral services.
A range of activities
Located on the third floor at 3860 Notre Dame Blvd. in Chomedey just east of Curé Labelle Blvd., the Wellness Centre has an elevator and there is a large parking lot on the side and behind the building. The centre also has the support of the CISSS de Laval.
With the Wellness Centre, Laval’s English-speaking and multicultural seniors can now participate in presentations on health, learn about the resources available to seniors who prefer to be served in English, take part in special activities, or receive referrals for their social service needs.
Central location in Chomedey
The Wellness Centre is also a place where seniors can go for health conferences, cognitive activities (board and card games), organized bus trips, computer or tablet courses and meetings with other members of Laval’s English-speaking community.
“We’re trying to focus on getting seniors out of their isolation,” said Agape executive-director Kevin McLeod. “It’s an issue across Quebec. It’s also an issue for us in Laval. According to the most recent Canadian census statistics in 2016, there’s nearly 20,000 English-speaking seniors 55 years of age and over in Laval now and we’re offering services for these people.”
Inspired by the CHSSN
Launched with a $140,000 two-year grant received from the provincial government’s Québec ami des aînés program, the Agape English-Speaking Senior Wellness Centre was largely inspired by a model developed by the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN), which supports English-speaking communities in Quebec in their efforts to redress health status inequalities.
According to McLeod, in the six months the Wellness Centre has been open, they’ve been able to contact 300 seniors as well as other partner organizations to spread the word.
“There’s a need for services for English-speaking seniors in Laval,” he said, citing the findings of a statistical presentation Agape made. “It’s proven that there’s not enough services for them and this is why the Wellness Centre is here.”
Health benefits for seniors
According to Ian Williams, Agape’s staff social worker, research has shown that access by Anglophone seniors to English-language health and social services is an important health determinant.
“We want seniors to come here and have access to what’s available out there,” he said. “And just by the fact of getting out of isolation, out of their homes to come here, is a health benefit on its own.”
For McLeod, starting the Wellness Centre has been an opportunity to see English-speaking senior citizens from Laval emerge from their isolation, often following life-changing events. “We have seen seniors – recent widows and widowers – who’ve come to the Wellness Centre and they’re using it quite frequently,” he said. “For us this is a sign of success.”
Supported by government grant
Agape staff, volunteers and supporters are currently hoping that the provincial or federal governments will decide to extend funding for the Agape English-Speaking Senior Wellness Centre, as well as other wellness centres across Quebec.
“What we’d like to see, especially with the new government coming in, is for them to sustain these wellness centres,” McLeod said, while adding that this would allow the Agape English-Speaking Senior Wellness Centre to continue operating beyond its two-year mandate without having to charge any additional fees.
“When you’re looking at keeping seniors out of hospitals, keeping them well, taking them out of isolation, I think that’s a responsibility that falls on government,” he added.
Keeping seniors healthy
“The centre is actually serving a public health need,” said Williams. “If this could keep seniors healthier and happier, the chances of them being sustained at home, as opposed to being in a long-term care residence, is much more feasible.”
The lineup of weekly activities this fall at the Wellness Centre includes iPad courses on Fridays (10:30 am to noon, Nov. 2-16-23 and Dec. 7). Then there are the Karaoke Fridays from 1 to 4 pm. Tuesday afternoons from 1 to 4 pm it’s time for Coffee Sweets and Chat.
Some upcoming health presentations include a video conference on bladder health on Wednesday Nov. 14, and a session on Nov. 30 for seniors, families and friends on bullying and senior abuse. The Agape English-Speaking Senior Wellness Centre can be reached by phone at (450) 934-1122.