A local resident has been selected for a provincial council looking into seniors’ matters. Don Caskey is part of the seniors advocate council of advisers, which is a group formed by the ombudsperson to represent the needs of seniors and provide advice and feedback on the issues facing seniors in B.C.
“I was appointed in January,” said Caskey. “I had a notice come to me though emails and I applied in November. I was one of 30 people to be selected.”
Caskey has lived in Grand Forks for over 40 years and was a math and social studies teacher at the high school for many years.
Caskey said the seniors council, which is all volunteer, was started up by the seniors advocate (Isobel MacKenzie) for the ombudsperson, Kim Carter, who often found herself dealing with seniors’ issues.
“MacKenzie decided to strike up a council to advise her — we’re called council advisors,” said Caskey. “We give advice on seniors’ issues.”
Caskey said the advisors are allocated based on the respective health authorities and are representative of the whole province. He is one of six people representing the Interior Health Authority region.
The senior council meets four times per year including two day-long meetings at a central location and two half-day teleconference meetings. The group met for their inaugural meeting on March 6 in Richmond.
“We spent the day getting to know each other and finding out what the seniors advocate is hoping we can accomplish,” he said. “Part of the meeting was coming up with some priorities for seniors in B.C.”
Caskey said the number one priority the council came up with was communication.
“Government offers several things to seniors but it’s not coordinated,” he said. “The ombudsperson pointed out that seniors sometimes aren’t aware of what’s available to them. It’s one priority that the senior advocate is trying to coordinate and get information for seniors.”
Another priority is help for seniors in rural areas.
“I happened to be in a group with other rural people and their issue is pretty common throughout the province—seniors getting to see specialists in small towns,” said Caskey, “even just getting in for simple lab work (without having to drive long distances).”
Caskey also mentioned that senior housing was a priority for the council. “Many seniors are on fixed incomes and it’s not really clear in terms of what institutions are that house seniors. The rules and regulations are governed by different ministries.”
Caskey said the council members were asked in which areas they are interested and will be placed into sub-committees for future meetings. The council will meet again in June online for a webinar.
“They want all 30 of us to let people know that we are around,” he said. “We can speak to groups, seniors and take information from them. That’s also part of the job.
Caskey said so far he has enjoyed his experience on the council although he admits it’s a big learning curve. He said he hasn’t had a lot of chances to meet with seniors but he is looking forward to it. His volunteering positions will allow him many chances to meet with seniors.
“A lot of my volunteer time is done with seniors. I think that’s one of the reasons I was accepted for the position,” he said. “I volunteer with Red Cross. A huge percentage of our clients are seniors. So I’m aware of what seniors need when they need hip replacements and knee replacements and all kinds of things.”
For more information visit seniorsadvocatebc.ca, phone 1-877-952-3181 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.