INVERNESS: The good folks at Mill Road Social Enterprises have entered into a program that, should all go well, will provide seniors with tools to help them stay in their homes a little bit longer.

“We have three of our clients involved,” said Cindy O’Neil, executive director of Mill Road Social Enterprises. “They and the job coach have been training and are ready to go. The biggest problem we could have is not being able to provide the service to everyone who calls.”

The program is called Home Services Nova Scotia, and it was launched by the provincial government on November 7.

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The program is designed to help older adults access a variety of affordable, non-medical services such as housekeeping, meal preparation and yard work. The services are provided by people living with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues and delivered with the help of community agencies.

Created by DIRECTIONS Council for Vocational Services Society and funded by the province, the program supports SHIFT: Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for an Aging Population, a government initiative that focuses on helping older Nova Scotians stay involved in work, entrepreneurship, volunteering and other activities.

“There was some funding we applied for that provided services for seniors, and we decided to take part, so I guess we’re the pilot group seeing this through,” O’Neil said, noting that Mill Road is one of 30 adult services groups across the province. Eleven decided to join up.

“We’re providing the services that fill the gap. We’re offering light housekeeping, grounds keeping, snow shoveling, and maybe some food preparation. It might be just spending some time with people. There’s a fee for our serviced, and it’s intended in the list of services to help seniors stay in their homes a little bit longer.”

The program is also a boon for the Mill Road clients, O’Neil said, as they will get paid for their work and undergo training – First Aid, CPR, WHIMIS – and specific training in-house with Mill Road’s job coach.

“It’s not all as simple as it sounds,” she said. “You have to connect with that individual and make sure they are involved in that process.”

Three Mill Road clients will be doing the work, but there’s a chance that number might grow higher. So far, Mill Road Social Enterprises is dealing with seniors in the community of Inverness, but calls are now starting to come from further out.

The fee is $20 an hour inside Inverness, but travel costs would have to be factored in for services outside the community.

Seniors Minister Leo Glavine gave his endorsement of the service during the program’s launch last month.

“This program has created an extremely valuable service,” he said. “Home Services Nova Scotia helps support older Nova Scotians age at home and maintain a connection to the community. They can get help with simple chores, running errands, even shovelling snow.

“We’re excited to help older Nova Scotians keep their independence and build stronger, more inclusive communities.”

For anyone wishing to take part in the program, Mill Road Social Enterprises can be reached at 902-258-3316. The program can also be accessed by calling 211, a helpline connecting people to community and social services in their areas. With that, the program can be found online at: www.directionscouncil.org.