New program gets seniors working with local agencies

Duane Hicks

Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (SALT) is a new program in Fort Frances meant to mobilize seniors to become involved with local police and other service agencies that focus on seniors’ needs in their community.
Cst. Anne McCoy, the local OPP community services officer, said the OPP has teamed up with the Treaty #3 Police Service, Northwestern Health Unit, and District Mental Health Services for Older Adults Program to get SALT off the ground.
“We decided we needed to have some seniors involved in some of the things that we were working on in the community, with the focus on finding out what their needs are,” Cst. McCoy noted.
“And by knowing what their needs are, we can serve them better,” she reasoned.
Citing the high number of older adults living in Rainy River District, Cst. McCoy said this is “an exciting opportunity for a lot of the people looking to get involved in the community, and with the different agencies that want to assist them, and get them mobilized, get them out there, and active.”
“I think that the SALT initiative is a great way to get seniors engaged in their community and help to make their community a healthier and safer place to live and play and work,” said Becky Holden, health educator with the Northwestern Health Unit and chair of the local seniors’ coalition.
“Our senior population has a lot of skills that I think we can really capitalize upon to make some positive changes in our community, and increase education and awareness of safety and health concerns,” she added.
“It will be a great opportunity to increase leadership and mobilize our senior population,” Holden stressed.
The SALT group will meet on the last Tuesday of every month at 11 a.m. at the Super 8 Motel, and anyone interested in finding out more should attend.
Lunch will be provided at the monthly meetings, although those who plan to attend must notify Cst. McCoy (275-0010) or Holden (274-9827) so they know how many lunches to prepare.
Cst. McCoy said the “Super 8 has been fantastic” because they’ve given SALT in-kind use of their common room area for their meetings.
The next meeting of SALT will be Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 11 a.m. after holding their August meeting last Wednesday (Aug. 4).
“We have already seen a positive response to our initial call-outs for participants to be involved,” noted Holden.
“And as we move toward the SALT model, we are confident that the structure will encourage more participants, as well as retain those we currently have.
“We are really excited about the response from the participants at the Aug. 4 meeting as Anne [Cst. McCoy] introduced the SALT initiative,” she added.
Cst. McCoy said the SALT program has been successful in Orillia, Ont., where it first started a few years ago, and she has been in touch with her contacts down there to get information and a list of presenters that group has booked.
SALT would like to arrange to have a presentation on a different topic every month down the road, Cst. McCoy added.
“We’ll take a look at what the seniors want, or who they would like to have in as presenters, and we’ll make that happen,” she pledged.
One major topic of interest for seniors is crime prevention, in particular fraud.
“We have telemarketers, we have mail scams, and some older adults use e-mail and get e-mail scams,” Cst. McCoy noted.
“I get a lot of phone calls throughout the month [regarding fraud]. . . .
“What we could do is have one of the contacts from the OPP come in and talk about how [seniors] can protect themselves, and have a question-and-answer period,” she explained.
Other presentations the Orillia SALT group has invited in include fire prevention, injury prevention (protection from slips and falls in the home and yard), and writing wills and power of attorney, among others.
“There’s lots of things that we can pick and choose from, but we want to make sure that we look at what’s happening in the Rainy River District and we focus on what they want to hear,” Cst. McCoy stressed.
The plan is to have the monthly presentations take place at various locations around the community, said Cst. McCoy, adding the SALT program also wants input from area First Nations and outlying municipalities.
In fact, there is a possibility of starting more SALT programs throughout the district.
The SALT team also wants to put out a monthly newsletter seniors can sign up for, and also do some surveys.
Cst. McCoy reiterated that seniors are encouraged to get involved with SALT, but don’t have to feel obligated to attend all the meetings and presentations if it doesn’t fit into their schedules.
“We’re just letting people know that we’re here and it’s happening, and there’s a lot of different topics that we’re going to be discussing,” she remarked.
“We’re going to try and make it fun.”
Cst. McCoy said SALT is building its council right now, and service providers also are encouraged to get on board.
The Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board is going to be the newest addition to the council in the future.
Cst. McCoy noted that service providers’ participation can range from having a representative sit on the council to simply signing up to get e-mails, as well as meeting agendas and minutes.
Those interested in getting involved in SALT, or learning more about it, can contact Cst. McCoy (275-0010) or Holden (274-9827).
SALT also will have a booth in the exhibition hall at the Emo Fair next weekend (Aug. 19-21).
The public will be able to find out more about SALT then and join up.