Margaret Denton, PhD, is the Vice President of 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.
Margaret has also been a valuable member of the McMaster community, having served as Director of the Centre for Gerontological Studies, Director of the Gerontology Programme, Acting Chair of the Department of Sociology, Graduate Chair in the Department of Health, Aging and Society, and a member of many university committees.
Margaret’s work extends beyond Hamilton, collaborating with many communities to develop best practices in implementing age friendly communities across Southern Ontario.
Southern Ontario Age-Friendly Network Part 2: Connecting Older Adults to Health and Community Services, Financial Entitlements and Social Participation Opportunities
The Southern Ontario Age-Friendly Network (SOAFN) has representatives from 18 communities in the south western area of Ontario Canada. who are at various stages on the journey to becoming age-friendly. Meeting on a bi-monthly basis we share our stories, learn from each other and discuss barriers and opportunities to support each other and help advance our age-friendly plans at both the local and regional level. Members identified lack of access to health and community services, financial entitlements and opportunities for recreation and leisure as a barrier to the health and wellbeing of many older people. Further, social isolation reduces the ability to access supports and live independently. Many SOAFN members are working on initiatives to reduce social isolation in their communities and connect older adults to services. The purpose of this symposium is to present four of these initiatives. First, Taralyn Prindiville presents the Hamilton Seniors Isolation Impact Plan, a initiative to reduce isolation among seniors in Hamilton. Using a collective impact model seven innovative and mutually reinforcing projects are linked with a shared goal of reaching and connecting 20% of isolated seniors in Hamilton over three years. This presentation will describe the impacts of the initiative in its first and second years, as well as lessons learned in reducing isolation among Seniors using a collective impact model. Second, Heather Thompson presents Halton Senior Connector program, a volunteer program offering resources and referrals to seniors, their families and caregivers, supporting and empowering others with the knowledge to make informed decisions. Third, Sharon Livingstone presents The Seniors as Mentors and Leaders project that aims to alleviate and prevent social isolation among high risk, low-income seniors in Cambridge by training senior volunteers to become mentors. Our fourth presenter, Michelle Dellamora will describe the City of London’s Hub and Satellite Service Model – neighbourhood outreach programs from the City’s larger Seniors’ Centres to 26 social and affordable housing buildings in London. The Seniors’ Satellites contribute to older adults’ ability to remain active and socially engaged by providing affordable, accessible physical activity and leisure programming that is near their homes and often situated in existing community hubs. Implementation of the Satellites is supported by senior-serving organizations that are members of the AFLN and have committed to reducing barriers to participation and supporting healthy aging. Margaret Denton will present the Older Adult Peer Connector Program, a collaborative project in the City of Hamilton that trained older adult volunteers as peer connectors, volunteers and professionals working with seniors on how to access information on community and health services, financial entitlements and recreation and leisure activities. On line and print resources were developed to assist in accessing resources.
Hamilton’s Senior Isolation Impact Plan, Presented by Taralyn Prindiville, MSc., Hamilton Council on Aging, Project Manager Hamilton Seniors Isolation Impact Plan.
Social isolation is a pervasive issue that negatively impacts the health and wellbeing of many seniors, reducing their ability to access supports and live independently. This is why the World Health Organization identifies ‘consistent outreach to include people at risk of social isolation’ as an essential feature of an age-friendly city. Governments and communities are beginning to take steps to address this issue, but the contributing factors are complex, and solutions will require teamwork across sectors. With the support of the Government of Canada’s New Horizon’s for Seniors Program, organizations in Hamilton are collaborating to implement the Hamilton Seniors Isolation Impact Plan. A Collective Impact model links seven innovative and mutually reinforcing projects, with a shared goal of reaching and connecting 20% of isolated seniors in Hamilton over three years. This presentation will describe the impacts of the initiative in its first and second years, as well as lessons learned in reducing isolation among Seniors using a collective impact model.
The Senior Connector Program, Presented By Heather Thompson, MA. Manager, Age-Friendly Initiatives Community Development Halton
Volunteer Halton, a program of Community Development Halton, located in Halton region, Ontario, operates the Senior Connector Program, in partnership with the Burlington Age-Friendly Council (BAFC). Established in 2014, The Senior Connector program is a volunteer program offering resources and referrals to seniors, their families and caregivers, supporting and empowering others with the knowledge to make informed decisions. Connections are made by senior peer volunteers through face to face contact with their peers in the communities where they live.
With input from older adults living in Burlington, and the BAFC’s audit in 2013, it was identified that seniors face significant communication barriers in accessing information and resources. The provision of information in an age-friendly, face to face manner, provides a voice to seniors by permitting a more accurate understanding of their needs for support and services.
Senior peer volunteers are educated and trained on information and services that are available in Halton. Upon completion of the training, volunteers are provided with placements where seniors congregate and/or reside, such as; community dinners, pharmacies, libraries, Active Living Centres, faith groups, exercise programs and senior residences.
Seniors as Mentors and Leaders, Presented by Sharon Livingstone MSc., Cambridge Council on Aging & Chairperson Seniors as Mentors and Leaders
The City of Cambridge has a high rate of poverty among older adults. In the past four years, the emergency shelter and food bank have seen numbers increase by 200% from this age group. The Seniors as Mentors and Leaders (Funded by New Horizons Canada) project aims to alleviate and prevent social isolation among high risk, low-income seniors by training senior volunteers to become mentors. The outcomes for both participants and mentors, and the community will be discussed along with recommendations that could benefit similar projects.
The Cambridge Council on Aging (CCOA) is comprised of community partners (half of whom are seniors) representing Housing, Labour, Community Support, Home Care, Long Term Care, City 55+ Recreation, Food Insecurity, and Gerontology. Our Mission is to develop an age friendly community through education and advocacy.
Creating Age Friendly Neighbourhoods – The City of London Seniors’ Satellites, Presented by Michelle Dellamora, Supervisor, Age Friendly London, Neighbourhood, Children, and Fire Services, City of London
The Age Friendly London Network (AFLN) is currently implementing its second community Action Plan to improve the age-friendliness of social and physical environments. Within the domain of Social Participation, AFLN members have focused on improving access to social and recreation opportunities at the neighbourhood level. This has been achieved partly through the City of London’s Hub and Satellite Service Model – neighbourhood outreach programs from the City’s larger Seniors’ Centres to 26 social and affordable housing buildings in London. The Seniors’ Satellites contribute to older adults’ ability to remain active and socially engaged by providing affordable, accessible physical activity and leisure programming that is near their homes and often situated in existing community hubs. Implementation of the Satellites is supported by senior-serving organizations that are members of the AFLN and have committed to reducing barriers to participation and supporting healthy aging.
This presentation will describe the Seniors’ Satellites model, identify barriers and enablers to connecting low income seniors with social and recreation opportunities, and describe lessons learned from neighbourhood outreach and research.
Older Adult Peer Connector Program, Presented by Margaret Denton, Hamilton Council on Aging & Professor Emeritus, Department of Health and Aging, McMaster University
The Hamilton Older Adult Peer Connector Program (HPCP) was developed based on a need identified by older adults and community members about knowing where to go for help when they did it. It was a result of a partnership between the Hamilton Council on Aging, Hamilton Public Library and Information Hamilton and was funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. In all a total of 183 individuals attended training sessions including 63 older adults peer connectors, 90 volunteers working for other partner organizations and 30 professionals working with older adults. Peer connectors were placed at community locations across Hamilton. An analysis of their logs reveals over 2000 connections made. The most common connections were related to how to access information, inquires about resources available (i.e., brochures), followed by things to do, health and community services An online and paper based resources were created to assist peer connectors, older adults, volunteers and professionals to connect to health and community resources, financial entitlements and recreation and leisure activities. The presentation will end with a discussions of lessons learned and opportunities to move forward with this program.