Thrmiga is a second year Interdisciplinary Studies student. Her MA research explores Tamil seniors’ experiences and service providers’ perspectives of social inclusion in the GTA. Thrmiga previously held a Killam Fellowship from Fulbright Canada and is interested in pursuing a career in health policy. Her research interests include the aging experience of older immigrants in Canada, specifically the GTA.
Understanding Tamil Seniors’ Experiences and Service Providers’ Perspectives of Social Inclusion in the Greater Toronto Area
Understanding Tamil seniors’ perspective of social inclusion in the Greater Toronto Area is critical to improve program delivery. Researchers engaged 27 Tamil seniors using three-interlinked Concept Mapping sessions (CM; Phase 1), and 13 service providers through Focus Group (FG; Phase 2) methods. In the Brainstorming sessions, participants generated 204 statements to the question “What factors help you and other Tamil seniors feel included?” In the Sorting and Rating sessions, participants grouped statements into piles based on similarity. Participants rated statements on a 5-point scale on two dimensions (importance and feasibility to change at a program level). The sorted and rated data was statistically analysed to generate a cluster map. In the Interpretation and FG sessions, participants explored the feasibility for program changes. The factors identified by seniors in CM sessions created a seven-cluster map: family harmony; medical system; adaptation/integration; cultural-interaction; social-interaction; financial-independence; and services for employment/settlement. Critical interpretation of the map reveals seniors’ emphasis on structural (e.g. old age security) and cultural (e.g. familism) dimensions. The cluster mean scores for importance ranged from 3.82 (SD=0.5) to 4.33 (SD=0.2) and for feasibility ranged from 3.67 (SD=0.2) to 3.99 (SD=0.3). FG participants reviewed the map and discussed program changes around: reframing service delivery; culture and long-term care homes; funding/other challenges; and references to taboo topics. Although seniors suggested necessary changes in their families, the Tamil community, and mainstream society, they remained reluctant to impose expectations on the service providers. The findings warrant more community-provider conversations and inter-sectoral approaches to improve program delivery.