Safety trial for the elderly
Jean Wilson was a logical candidate to trial a safety survey to see how homes can be made safer for elderly New Zealanders.
She was Greypower Marlborough president at the time, volunteer for the Salvation Army, is a member of the Older Person's Forum and is a volunteer co-ordinator for the Ministry of Social Development and Senior Citizens. "Nearly 80", Jean lives in a house she and her late husband David bought in 1955. In the centre of town on a section zoned "commercial", the area was "almost country" in the 1950s so people often approach her, wanting her to sell. But she likes where she lives and the Centre for Research and Evaluation and Social Assessment (CRESA) home safety survey identified ways she can make it safer.
CRESA hopes to find 150 volunteers in Marlborough, 60 years and over, to do its Householder Maintenance and Repairs Assessment Tool for Good Homes survey. It is designed to show older people how they can make their homes safer and more comfortable and is one of the final stages of a six-year Good Homes for Good Lives study.
Jean says her house passed most of the interior checks.
Clean, dry air and warmth are important features and Jean points to the heat pump that replaced a coal-fired Juno when David's health was ailing. Sunlight during the day streams through windows in one of the main living rooms and the whole house is insulated.
Hazards lurk outside, though, Jean acknowledges.
The Maintenance and Repairs booklet asks respondents to look at lighting at entranceways and whether they are reached by steps or ramps.
Steps to the doorway Jean uses most became an obstacle when she pulled a tendon in her leg while moving furniture for the Salvation Army. Luckily, a ramp to another entranceway had already been installed for a wheel chair David used.
Jean walks nimbly again but intends to take up one of the survey tips: painting a strip of white paint on the edge of steps to make them more visible.
It will be a bigger job removing a ridge tree roots that created on the wide concrete driveway. Jean stands beside it to show how easily she might trip on it if she doesn't remember to lift her feet.
CRESA presented the survey booklets at a meeting in Blenheim last week and its research director Kay Saville-Smith said house repairs and maintenance jobs were often a low priority for older people.
Another meeting will be called in April when the survey's findings will be discussed and plans drawn up to take the safety in homes' programme further, Ms Saville-Smith said.
Anyone interested in being a volunteer should contact Bev Doole, phone 035705233 or email firstname.lastname@example.org