The Canadian province of Nova Scotia is stepping up its approach in making wheelchairs more accessible and affordable for seniors with mobility issues. The Seniors Community Wheelchair Loan Program will begin in September and is targeting low-income seniors 65 and older. Premier Darrell Dexter told the Yarmouth County Vanguard, “Until now, low-income seniors who needed a wheelchair couldn’t get help from the province unless they were living in a long-term care facility. That wasn’t acceptable”. The program will start with a $1.4 million annual budget and aims to benefit as many as 300 seniors in the first year.
This is just another in a sweeping series of measures instituted by the province to improve conditions faced by low-income seniors with mobility issues. In 2012 Nova Scotia invested $22 million in home community care improvements to ensure seniors, people living with disabilities and their families get the care and support they need and a portion of that investment was set aside for addressing mobility issues for low-income seniors. “Our goal is to maximize people’s independence and their ability to participate in all aspects of life,” Dexter said.
Applicants for the new program need to be assessed by a health-care provider in the district health authority and found to need a wheelchair for basic daily activities and to remain in their homes. The program is aimed at helping low-income residents but will also benefit seniors living on a fixed-income who up until now couldn’t afford a wheelchair. “This will be enormously helpful to Nova Scotia seniors,” said Ralph Ferguson, a senior from the Pictou area and a commissioner of the Nova Scotia Disabled Persons Commission. “I am pleased that seniors who need it will now get the help to access the often costly wheelchairs they need to live active, healthy lives in our communities”.