Kahir is the Provincial Director of Healthy Aging at the United Way Lower Mainland (UWLM). He has extensive experience in social services with a specialization in community and healthy living for older adults, health promotion, holistic quality of life and immigrant older adults. Kahir’s expertise includes executive leadership in and beyond Canada, multi-sectoral collaboration and partnership building, policy development, program delivery and evaluation. Kahir holds several degrees and certificates in Gerontology, Leadership and Management. Kahir has a driving passion to serve the older adults of BC and beyond.
Supporting marginalized persons and communities for inclusive healthy aging practices; Case studies on collective learning in LGBTQ/2S, Newcomer, and Deaf & Hard of Hearing communities collaborative practices
Cass is a proven community advocate for marginalized communities and an ambassador for queer, trans and Two-Spirit Communities in his role as seniors’ coordinator at QMUNITY and from his seat on Egale’s National Seniors Advisory Council. He is passionate about policy and program design based on principle understandings of collaborative practice, practice readiness, anti-oppressive frameworks, and values based inclusive development.
This practice has taken him across Ontario and British Columbia and at times has given way to severe caffeine induced bouts of existential woe and narcissistically questionable self-reflection. He is an otherwise happy person.
As British Columbian and Canadian populations continue to age: community-level seniors’ services agencies, all levels of government including municipalities, academia and public partners are beginning to see (and test) the value in collaborative practices between multi-sector partners as comprehensive means to maximize collective impact and address these challenges of aging communities.
Largely speaking these large-scale collaborations are new solutions to complex community challenges. The implication of this is that ‘communities in change’ receive little guidance on how best to design and implement inclusive community practices of care: and may charge-ahead with the momentum of the collective. Risking doing so at the expense of historically marginalized communities
Over the course of the last 2 years, we have worked in community, with community to highlight the key role played by non-profits and municipal community-based seniors’ services in supporting seniors to build new social connections, remain physically and meaningfully active, and retain their independence as long as possible. During our consultation process and extensive literature review, we found that seniors experiencing, compounding vulnerabilities such as linguistic / cultural isolation, intersectional abuse, neglect, or discrimination are likely to face unique pressures and traumas that require programs, services and supports that are intentionally responsive to their diverse experiences. We also found organizations speaking directly from within those communities are crucial to transforming existing networks of care and support to better meet the needs of those communities at the margins; and that often these organizations are best equipped to connect local services to seniors most at the margins.
The W.H.O has called for the development of a person-centred, integrated, network of support. While constructing this model we risk elevating programs/models/organizations/and policies that appear ‘most-effective’ as prime prototypes thus perpetuating current inequities if those programs do not account for marginalized persons (in our case LGBTQ/2S, newcomers, deaf and hard of hearing, etc). Addressing this inequity is to recognize (and implement policies and programs) that all persons, as well as all communities need to be meaningfully accounted for to achieve inclusive healthy aging practices. Failure to design comprehensive policy specifically accounting for the struggles and barriers faced by marginalized communities (and individuals) creates enormous risk that those most at the margins of seniors care will remain there indefinitely.
Presenter 1: Kim Winchell, Abstract
Older Adults who are newcomers often face compounding vulnerabilities such as challenges with acculturalization, linguistic isolation as well as geographical isolation and accessing both, community based services as well as healthcare services. Ethnic newcomers face stigmas, and often struggle with navigating systems and services, exacerbated by the fact that often cultural norms differ from those that they are sometimes forced to acclimatized to.
Recent immigration and settlement patterns has seen significant gentrification of new comers outside of urban centres. Policies and programs have not been reflective of this trend. Organizations and civil society at large often provide surface level initiatives to welcome new comers but recent data has not reflected utilization of community and home supports and services.
This session will provide an analysis of the state of Older Adult New comers in British Columbia, emphasizing some of the social determinants of health impacted by this gap in services and policies for this particular segment of the Older Adult population. This session will also profile innovative, community based interventions and supports that have demonstrated effective uptake and participation of Older Adult newcomers particularly showcasing intentional strategies and considerations taken into perspective in the formation of these policies and programs.
Presenter 2: Cass Elliot, Abstract
Many LGBTQ2S+ seniors face particular challenges in finding appropriate, non-judgmental sources of support and connection as age-related conditions compromise their independence and impact their social support networks. For example: Canada’s history of systemic discrimination against LGBTQ communities (homosexuality criminalized until 1969, sexual orientation only added to the Humans right act in 1996 providing first nation-wide protection for tenancy and employment) has had a lasting impact on the way that older LGBTQ/2S seniors access care; and in how services/policy/and training are implemented across the sector. In one QMUNITY organized study, residential care facilities in White Rock and the surrounding area unanimously reported no LGBTQ seniors in care when asked; despite statistics that show the LGBTQ seniors make up at minimum 6% of the population and that there were LGBTQ seniors known to QMUNITY onsite. As a result LGBTQ/2S representation (and other marginalized community representation) on the whole is overburdened addressing inequities in the need for, and implementation of basic service provision; further exasperating the demands on their labour that accompany advocating for marginalized community inclusion in the development of new collaborative seniors networks.
Presenter 3: Linda Franchi, Abstract
WIDHH offers community based services to a segment of the Older Adult population traditionally excluded from mainstream programs. Better at Home (BH) delivers seniors services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Seniors in British Columbia who cannot access traditional needs based community or social services. Deaf seniors use American Sign Language; have low English literacy, poverty, frailty, and suffer from communication and social isolation. WIDHH-BH uses an asset-based model of community program design, implementation and service delivery. WIDHH’S staff are Deaf and fluent in American Sign Language and have native cultural and linguistic lived experience. Deaf Staff provide in person intake, assessment and counselling to Deaf Seniors. A roster of active Deaf senior volunteers provide companionship, home visits, transportation assistance, facilitated shopping trips, and other outings to assist isolated marginalized Deaf seniors to remain connected to their communities. The Transportation and Visiting program increases efficiency, by using asset based community development principles and approaches to service delivery. It increases effectiveness, improves the success rate of the program by creating and delivering culturally and appropriate services to its clients. It increases the reach and impact by developing leadership from within the community and mobilizing this seniors’ sector by linking Deaf seniors with existing hearing organizations.