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New weekly service helps Richmond Chinese seniors navigate community resources

Non-profit Gaia Community Care and Wellness Society is offering translation and application services to those in need.
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A non-profit is offering a weekly service to help local seniors navigate community resources.

A non-profit is hoping to help Chinese-speaking seniors in Richmond access community resources at a new weekly clinic.

Gaia Community Care and Wellness Society, which previously held fall prevention workshops in Richmond, recently launched its weekly service navigation services at Richmond South Centre MLA Henry Yao's office.

Every Tuesday, seniors who speak Cantonese and Mandarin can get help to translate documents, contact government departments and apply or inquire about welfare and community resources such as dental services and HandyDart.

The service began in Richmond on April 23 and stems from Gaia's existing service navigation program.

The program initially began in Chinatown to help seniors in single-room occupancy (SRO) housing better access community resources but soon expanded to the Vancouver Chinese Library to meet the demands of other seniors, Gaia spokesperson Sam Chan told the Richmond News.

He added there is a similar demand for such services in Richmond.

"There are independent housings in Richmond in which the (elderly) are either living alone or with a spouse. Their son or daughter may live far away," said Chan.

As such, those with language barriers may find it challenging to access government services.

One example, said Chan, is the Canadian Dental Care Plan.

"The seniors have to give them a call before the deadline or their application will not be considered," he said.

"However, the hotline has no language-appropriate service for Chinese seniors."

Chan added the service counter is close to the Canada Line station in city centre, which makes it convenient for most Richmond residents.

Gaia's support service is available every Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. at MLA Henry Yao's office at #149-6386 No. 3 Rd. Appointments are required and can be made by calling 778-776-7403.

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