Rebekah Churchyard is a Gerontological Social Worker (MSW, RSW) based in Toronto, Ontario. Rebekah works as Project Manager with The Neighbourhood Group (TNG) in the Neighbour-to-Neighbour (N2N) 2.0 Program. She is committed to supporting older adults and countering ageism and age-related stigma in our culture. In this role she coordinates an enhancement of volunteer-based Friendly Visiting programs for isolated seniors in the Toronto core funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Project partners include Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre, West Neighbourhood House and Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre. Rebekah volunteers as Director on the Toronto Council on Aging (TCA) Board of Directors, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) Liaison for World Young Leaders in Dementia (WYLD), and consultant to the Co-Operators Youth Sustainability Panel. She is an active contributor to the Accountability Table for the Toronto Seniors Strategy. Rebekah believes in transformative social work and the value of keeping seniors seen, engaged and connected.
Finding Comfort in Discomfort: Practicing InterAgency Collaboration with N2N 2.0
Julie Piche is a Public Health Worker based in Toronto, Ontario. She coordinates the Neighbour 2 Neighbour 2.0 Program out of one of the program partner agencies, Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre. Coming from a clinical (midwifery) background informs the work that she does today. Committed to supporting seniors from an anti-ageist, holistic perspective, Julie’s work in the Toronto core represents the next evolution of volunteer-based Friendly Visiting programs. She is proud to be at the forefront of the community sector’s move to contemporary, collaborative and just plain cool programming.
Rachelle Denny is a Community Access Worker in the Community Access Program at Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC). Rachelle is a representative on CAMH’s Constituency Council and a former member of the board of ARCH Disability Law Centre. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto.
Neighbour 2 Neighbour (N2N) 2.0 is an interagency partnership that includes 3 agencies in the downtown Toronto area with friendly visiting programming and 1 agency for appointment accompaniment. Friendly visiting programming connects isolated older adults to volunteers for social time by: visiting in their home, making phone calls or attending community activities together. When it comes to keeping connected and having friends, age shouldn’t matter.
The agencies received funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) in the GROW stream to expand or replicate a proven model (in this case, friendly visiting programming). Partners: The Neighbourhood Group (TNG, lead), West Neighbourhood House (WestNH) and Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre (WNC) with the Community Access Program (CAP) at Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC) will guide workshop participants through their collaborative process.
We will address N2N 2.0 from the micro, mezzo and macro social work levels of practice while integrating our main considerations for collective impact. We will address the following areas:
Micro definition: working directly with older adults in our communities.
Micro questions: When is someone socially isolated? How does it feel to be isolated? Why do people become isolated? Is social isolation an ageist issue? What does a volunteer want?
Mezzo definition: working between agencies and within our neighbourhoods.
Mezzo questions: Do we have a shared agreement? How did we conduct our outreach? What do we do with shared catchment? How do we keep organized and share information?
Macro definition: interventions (large scale) that affect communities and program systems.
Macro questions: What systemic challenges do you face? How do you deal with societal ageism? How is N2N 2.0 preparing for replication? Where does social isolation belong in policy?
We know how important working together is but that does not make it easy nor painless. Presenters from each of the agencies in our collaborative will address the various levels of discomfort that practitioners may feel while pioneering this novel approach. We will also share strategies that have worked for us and relate to the collective impact components listed below.
Common agenda: all of the program sites are striving to make their community services (friendly visiting and appointment accompaniment) better for their clients.
Shared measurement systems: we all gather data on our programming (number of clients and volunteers, time spent socializing) which we input in one dataset.
Mutually reinforcing activities: we host and attend joint community events and N2N 2.0 training to make our team and volunteers to support our collaborative with knowledge.
Continuous communication: we attend monthly project meetings, have an interagency communications group, branding and development guidelines and emails frequently.
Backbone support organizations: each partner has an established agency that provides a variety of programs and services for all ages.
This workshop will be solutions-focused and interactive! We will engage our audience with real challenges N2N 2.0 encountered, ask them what they would do and go over what N2N 2.0 did. We are better together and look forward to sharing with IFA attendees!