Pat Spadafora, of Kaleidoscope Consulting, is the founder and former Director of the Centre for Elder Research, an applied research Centre of Excellence at Sheridan College in Oakville. The Centre, founded by Pat in 2003, enables researchers to go from “lab to life”® with its consumer driven focus and its emphasis on knowledge translation. With many years of experience in post-secondary education, social work and applied research, Pat has a proven track record of bringing innovative projects to fruition. Under her leadership, the Centre amassed an impressive body of work and developed a reputation for innovative research and community engagement.
Pat’s expertise and interests include promoting positive images of aging, addressing ageism, creative aging, social prescribing for social inclusion, designing multigenerational environments, the human cost of social isolation and loneliness, the needs and interests of older entrepreneurs and the health and well-being benefits of engagement in the creative and performing arts.
Through Kaleidoscope Consulting, Pat’s mission is to change the way we view aging.
Building Connected Communities for all Ages: Moving from Social Exclusion to Social Inclusion
Dr. Margaret Denton is a Board Member with the Hamilton Council on Aging and Chair of the Age Friendly Hamilton Governance Committee. Margaret was the driving force in bringing the vision of Age Friendly to Hamilton in 2007, making Hamilton the first city in Ontario to begin the process of becoming an Age Friendly City. She has been a leader in moving her vision of an Age Friendly Hamilton forward ever since. Her work extends beyond Hamilton, collaborating with many communities to develop best practices in implementing age friendly communities across Southern Ontario
Dr. Denton is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Health, Aging and Society at McMaster University. She was a valuable member of the McMaster community, having held many administrative positions and an active community researcher with over 70 publications in peer reviewed journals. Dr. Denton’s expertise spans issues related to health and aging, and the organization and delivery of community health care services.
Pat Spadafora, Kaleidoscope Consulting
Margaret Denton, McMaster University
From May 2016 – April 30th, 2019, with funding from the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, 7 organizations in Hamilton formed a collaborative to deliver innovative projects that addressed the social isolation of adults 55+ living in the greater Hamilton area. The overall objectives were to measurably reduce rates of isolation, to build community capacity to more effectively identify, reach and connect isolated older adults and to prevent isolation in the future. Federal funding support for the 3-year project was extended until December 31st, 2019. During the 8-month extension, one objective was to serve an additional 500 adults 55+ who were experiencing or, who were at risk of experiencing, social isolation. The extension also provided the collaborative with the opportunity to 1. expand knowledge dissemination; 2. to create tools/resources for use by organizations and individuals in Hamilton as well as potential adaptation by other communities and 3. to more specifically concentrate on sustainability plans.
Of particular note during this 8-month extension period was gradually shifting the narrative from social isolation to social inclusion, from responsive interventions to prevention and from a focus primarily on older adults to one that embraces multigenerational thinking. Recognizing that external funding is not a given, sustainability was considered from three perspectives; funded, low-cost and no-cost solutions.
The rationale behind one low to no-cost solution that reflects this shift in our thinking is supported by research evidence that demonstrates that connecting generations mitigates against social isolation and reduces ageism (Cornell University and the University of Toronto, 2019). With this and other related research in mind, a working group of the collaborative introduced an awareness and advocacy campaign called ‘Do You Know Your Neighbour?’ that integrated these key messages: building neighbourhoods for all ages results in healthy and safe communities; every individual, regardless of age, race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, abilities or other factors can contribute to their neighbourhood in some way and; connecting with people of all ages helps to prevent isolation and loneliness and combats ageism.
During this interactive workshop, the presenters will share their experience with the ‘Do You Know Your Neighbour?’ campaign, share these and other project resources with delegates and work collaboratively with delegates to explore adapting these resources and/or to create new resources relevant to their communities. Finally, we will collectively explore other strategies for including older adults with individuals of all ages in the fabric of our communities. Every voice counts. We can no longer be silent.