Fraser Health has cancelled funding for two programs that have helped countless Chilliwack residents on the path to rehabilitation, Move to Improve and Cardiac Care.
Move to Improve will end on June 29, after years of being offered exclusively through the Chilliwack YMCA. The YMCA recently received notice from the health authority that the FHA will no longer fund the Move to Improve program, and passed the message onto their members.
That includes Winnifred Loucks, 74, who has been using Move to Improve for almost one year.
“I just can’t see this happening,” she said of the program cancellation.
When she began, she was using a cane and walker to get around. Now, she’s walking without mobility aids, and credits the program for getting her to this point.
“I wasn’t walking when I went into the Y,” she said. “I had a walker and a cane, and now I’m walking on my own, so it’s doing me all kinds of good.”
The free program regularly had about 30 participants, all of whom were referred into the program by medical professionals within Fraser Health. It was deck and pool-based, and had the support of health professionals who also helped run the program. It was developed specifically for the Chilliwack YMCA, who says it is working with registrants to find suitable programs for each of them.
A new program called Fundamental Fitness, designed for seniors who need a supported exercise program, will replace Move to Improve. It will be free to members and offered to non-members with a drop-in fee.
While Fraser Health has ended the funding partnership for Cardiac Care as well, the YMCA will continue offering that program with a user fee attached.
Those with complex health issues will need to speak with their doctors about the best program for their needs.
Fraser Health has not responded to a request by media to explain the cancellation of the long-standing funding partnership for the programs.
Loucks, a former nurse, said it would not be possible for participants to carry on doing the exercise programs on their own.
“I don’t have the equipment to do it,” she said, adding that some of the participants are stroke patients, or had been in accidents.
“This is a really sad state of affairs,” she added, that the program is not being continued by Fraser Health. She sees it as just one more service being cut by the health authority.
“They’re doing this now to cut expenses,” she said. “But they’re just going to set themselves up for a catastrophe.”
Loucks has forwarded her concerns to both MLA John Martin and MLA Laurie Throness, and has spoken to the B.C. Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie. She’s hoping the loss of services will be re-evaluated.
“She is a nurse, and she has been there and done that and she really knows the business,” Loucks said. “She’s a true advocate.”