Government Partners with 211 to Enhance Services for Seniors

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Starting Thursday, Jan. 15, seniors will only need to dial three digits to get information they need as the provincewide 211 service will handle inquiries about senior abuse and provincial programs.

211 Nova Scotia is a confidential information and referral service for community, non-profit and government services. It has information about thousands of services, is available 24 hours a day and has interpretation services for more than 100 languages.

"This announcement is very good news," said Bill VanGorder, chair of the Group of IX Seniors' Advisory Council of Nova Scotia. "Now seniors will have easy access to information to help them navigate the supports and services they need."

The non-profit 211 service was launched in February 2013, with financial support from the Government of Nova Scotia and the United Way. More than 120,000 Nova Scotians have called or used 211's online database to find services.

In its 2013 annual report, 211 reported about one-third of inquiries are about services for seniors. Requests ranged from preventing or responding to senior abuse, to information on programs and services that help people stay in their homes. Department of Seniors staff respond to 2,200 to 3,000 calls per year.

The two Department of Seniors information and referral lines that have been providing these services will be automatically re-directed to 211 until the transition is complete.

Staff at 211 recently had specialized training from the department to ensure it understands the types of challenges seniors face, especially with senior abuse. The department will continue to act as a resource to 211, to meet the needs of seniors.

"We know that sometimes reaching out for help, especially when you've always enjoyed a relatively independent lifestyle, is not easy," said Mike Myette, executive director of 211 Nova Scotia. "Our ultimate goal is to make the experience of getting help as positive and as stress-free as possible."

Calls to 211 are toll-free from any phone in Nova Scotia, and 211 also offers an easy-to-navigate online database at www.ns.211.ca .