Pilot program aims to help Vancouver Island seniors age in place

Seniors Foundation partnering with B.C. tech company Hibou for Duncan pilot project

The Cowichan Seniors Community Foundation is partnering with a technology company for a pilot program aimed at helping seniors age in place.

“This program is designed to allow seniors to stay living safely in their homes for as long as possible,” explained Heather Eastman, founder of Hibou. “All seniors in the Cowichan Valley will be provided HibouWellness at no cost.”

The program was launched Oct. 18 during the Aging Well Seniors Expo at the Cowichan Community Centre and could help more than 4,500 seniors in the region.

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“Seniors today are unlike any generation before them. They are smarter, wiser, more active and connected. We can’t underestimate their abilities and their rights to independence,” Eastman said. “Being independent and having the privilege to make my own choices has always been one of my core values. The idea that someone would have to give this up due to safety risks seemed unacceptable when there is so much technology around us that could reduce those risks. Our team developed Hibou to give people their freedom back and let them age-in-place with dignity.”

But what is it exactly?

It’s a cloud-based software system that connects seniors with their families while they maintain their independence.

The senior will get a daily automated check-in phone call asking if they’re OK or need help. If they don’t reply somebody on their notification list will be alerted.

Eastman said Hibou hopes that if the pilot program proves successful, senior levels of government might consider providing funding to the company through the United Way to provide the technology to more seniors, free of charge.

It’s a service the folks at the Cowichan Seniors Community Foundation are thrilled to partner with.

“Currently, our programs and services reach over 1,500 seniors in the Cowichan Valley. With the introduction of HibouWellness to our programs, we are hoping to double if not triple the numbers of seniors that we are able to provide services to,” explained CSCF executive director Kate Rossetto. The community organization’s volunteer pool is diminishing and traditional programs like check-ins could use a little technological help.

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“We strive to address the broad base of what senior living looks like, as well as provide access to proactive initiatives to that end,” said CSCF board member Bill Brown.

“Seniors can participate with Hibou wellness regardless of their technological ability at a cost that is affordable. It will allow seniors to maintain their independence while also providing family members a sense of comfort, knowing their loved ones will have additional support at home.”



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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