Welcome to our Sunshine Coast Seniors Co-op blog!
“Kick at the darkness ‘till it bleeds daylight…”
– Bruce Cockburn
Fathers, Grandfathers, and Orchids
The best place to start this, our very first blog, is to tell you a story about Father’s Day.
My daughter Maya has been taking good care of the orchid we brought home from my father-in-law’s celebration of life last year, and on Father’s Day, it bloomed for the very first time.
Although I am a Horticultural Therapist, I have never had any luck with orchids. But however you want to explain it, my daughter succeeded with a little memory of my wonderful father-in-law, whom we miss every day.
And many people are missing their Fathers, Grandfathers, and Great-Grandfathers this past Sunday because of the absolutely catastrophic disaster of COVID 19 in our senior care facilities.
Research has now well established that we lost people in their 80s and 90s at least a year to 5 years before they would have left us – not really because of COVID-19, but because of the conditions in which they were being “cared” for.
And not just in the for-profit sector, but in the non-profit sector as well. One single non-profit care home in Halifax accounted for the majority of deaths in Nova Scotia, despite concerns raised by powerless staff and residents.
But we know that we can – and will – do better with a different model of senior care that puts seniors and their families at the centre of the care model. Co-operative senior care already exists in places like Saskatchewan and in Italy where the co-operative care facilities apparently experienced very few COVID-19 cases. We can build the same model here in British Columbia – we just need the grassroots willpower and organization.
We would be remiss if we didn’t use this very first blog to say thank you to the many people who have come forward since we first started floating the idea of a co-operative alternative to Trellis late last year.
I, myself, spent December and January writing emails and calling people from my place in Toronto before getting back to the Sunshine Coast in February and reaching out to many people in person. While spending time with family, looking for work on the Sunshine Coast, applying to be a registered social worker in BC (where I started my career and worked for many years), I managed to attend a few meetings and make a pitch or two.
Then my partner I wrote our piece for The Tyee and we were off and running. Our loose-knit group of about 10 interested folks exploded.
Thanks in particular to Lise Kreps at Roberts Creek co-housing (and her intrepid band of superstars including Jane Mossop, who is now a key player in our group) and Jason Lewis in Gibsons. Lise and Jason were among the first people to offer time and talent to help get our group off the ground.
We now have a website, Facebook page, the beginnings of an email list, and a strategy for the summer which will see us host at least a few meetings and educational events on Zoom while spending our (volunteer) time working on an alternative model to Trellis and meeting with several people up and down the Coast who have come forward land and want to build senior co-op assisted living (of some kind… details to follow).
We owe it to the memory of the all the dads, grandfathers and great-grandfathers we have lost to appalling “care” in our senior “care” system to do our level best to see if we can grow something new and wonderful – as my daughter did with our orchid.
All our love and until next time,
On behalf of the Sunshine Coast Alliance,