Port Hawkesbury seeks input from seniors


PORT HAWKESBURY: A survey was launched on August 15 in an effort to gain insight into the needs of seniors in the community.

“With the senior demographic increasing every year in this province, it represents a large percentage of the population,” said Paula Davis, recreation director for the Town of Port Hawkesbury. “Some communities are more prepared for the transition than others as far as the services they’re providing.”

The Town of Port Hawkesbury introduced the Age-Friendly Communities Senior Needs Assessment Survey in order to address this shift. The town obtained funding for the project through the Government of Nova Scotia’s Age-Friendly Communities program, which aims to help promote the welfare of older Nova Scotians while encouraging and celebrating the contributions they make to their communities. Seniors are asked to answer questions on topics such as housing, health, and access to services within Port Hawkesbury. Davis said the town plans to make the survey available until the end of October.

“Once we collect all the data from the survey, we’ll be able to release the findings and from there we can set about doing some appropriate planning,” said Davis.

The results will be used to inform future programming and help maximize the town’s resources.

“We’re trying to find out where we can affect change that will have the most benefit to seniors in our community”

Common topics of concern that Davis hears from seniors include the availability of healthcare, transportation, volunteer activities and opportunities for social engagement.

“Isolation is a common complaint that we hear. Some seniors don’t know how to meet people in the community if they’re not actively involved in a program. We have a very active seniors club in our community and we’re hoping that some of the information that we get from this survey will help them with their planning as well,” said Davis, referring to the Strait Area Evergreen Seniors Club which offers activities for seniors throughout the year.

Davis urges Port Hawkesbury residents who are 50 years of age or over to complete the survey, noting that all responses will be kept anonymous. Davis also said she does not want any seniors to be discouraged from taking part because they do not have access to a computer. Paper copies can be mailed to participants, and are available in a variety of locations including health care centers, drug stores and libraries. Completed surveys can be mailed or dropped off at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.

“If the senior is unable to fill out the survey, a friend can certainly help with that, or if they want me to complete the survey for them over the phone, I’m happy to do that,” said Davis. “We’re trying to make it as accessible as possible.”

Davis says she believes the information gathered directly from seniors will be essential for future improvements.

“If we have information articulated by the senior demographic it’s going to be a lot more well-founded than just the assumptions made of what a senior wants,” said Davis.

The survey can be accessed online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/porthawkesburyneeds or at townofporthawkesbury.ca. Surveys are also available at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.