The Hub of Social Services on the Coast

New Horizons for Seniors – Intended Outcomes

“Community Connections for Seniors”

Project Activities and Intended Outcomes – March 2015

 A downloadable, printable PDF of this page is available here.

Summary

Read the project summary here.

Recommendations

Read the project conclusions here.

Project Activities

The project was very successful in meeting and exceeding its goals. During July and August, 14 older adults with a range of backgrounds were recruited to become volunteer facilitators in their local community.  We originally planned to hold seven “dialogues”, one in each of five rural areas of the Sunshine Coast Regional District, in the District of Sechelt and in the Town of Gibsons. We added one extra session for the Davis Bay/Wilson Creek/Selma Park neighbourhood of the District of Sechelt.

The sessions were scheduled throughout October. Publicity included ads in the two local newspapers and newspaper articles (see Appendix 1), email lists of various stakeholders and partner agencies, websites, meeting with local seniors’ groups, and widely distributed posters. The Community Resource Centre took registrations.  Free transportation, child care and adult care were offered to make the events as accessible as possible. 

The facilitators worked in seven pairs, each coming from the local community where the session was held.  In August the facilitators attended orientation sessions for an introduction to the project, to get their input into the design and publicity for the sessions, and to assess their training needs.  They all attended full day training in September (see Appendix 2).

Each session had the same design (see Appendix 3) and was held in a comfortable and accessible local facility, with morning refreshments and lunch provided by local caterers. Some service providers were able to attend and make brief presentations on their programs.  Display tables of information about services for seniors were set up, with ample time both before and after the structured agenda for participants to peruse and gather printed material. This material included a Service Canada Handout provided for this project, and a handout on “Who to Ask” and “Where to Look” (see Appendix 4).  Registration numbers are in the following table.  The project also accommodated participants who hadn’t registered.

 

Community

Women

Men

Total

Service Provider Visits

Area A (Pender Harbour)

27

8

35

6

Area B (Halfmoon Bay)

26

9

35

2

District of Sechelt

29

11

40

4

Davis Bay

15

8

23

1

Area D (Roberts Creek)

10

5

15

2

Area E (Elphinstone)

7

3

10

2

Town of Gibsons

40

10

50

2

Area E (West Howe Sound)

15

4

19

1

Totals

169

58

227

20

The ages of participants ranged from the early 60’s to the late 80’s.  Participants were asked how they learned about the events and the responses, in order of most to least frequent, were: newspaper ad or article, community organizations including the Community Resource Centre, friends, and bulletin boards.

The informal evaluation at the end of each session was very positive.  Older adults really appreciated the opportunity to get together and discuss their issues and learn more about services. Comments were that the events were informative, useful, well run, and there was a good balance between the structured information, small group conversation, and networking over lunch. Suggestions included the call for follow up to the findings of the project, and more opportunities to connect.

In November, the 14 facilitators met for a morning with the coordinator, trainer and Community Resource Centre board members to debrief and evaluate the project.  They were recognized for their contribution with an honorarium, mileage reimbursement, flowers at their local events, certificate of completion for the training, and a group photo. 

Notes were kept at each session and were framed in two areas: the strengths of the community that are supportive of healthy active living for older adults, and the needs and gaps in services for older adults.  These were summarized and distributed to all participants.  A summary report of the findings was also distributed to the 200 people who attended the January 20 visit from Isobel Mackenzie, the Seniors Advocate for the Province of BC.  (Appendix 5).

Intended Project Results and Outcomes

The CRC existing information and referral service will be enhanced

Participants learned about the information and referral services of the CRC, and the newly established 211 line was also promoted. The CRC learned more about the information and referral needs and gaps of older adults.

Directories of services for seniors will be promoted more widely both in person and on line and can be updated as needed.

Copies of a four page directory were provided at each session and participants were informed about on line directories and resources.

Seniors will feel that they have had a say in what information they needed and how it should be delivered for ease of access.

The setting and design of the dialogues provided opportunity for individuals to be heard about what works best for their needs.

 Seniors will be engaged in their community by their community.

Seniors were engaged in their local communities by attending a session where they made connections with others in their local neighbourhood.

Isolated seniors will meet and socialize with others in their community.

It is very challenging to connect with the most isolated seniors.  It requires outreach workers and time to build relationships, and was beyond the scope of the resources of this project.  We did however reach some older adults who are more isolated than they want to be and who made valuable connections at the events

Facilitators will be trained for this project and will potentially be available to the community for related projects.

Facilitators gained valuable community development skills and connections to older adults in their local area.  Several facilitators have contributed to follow up projects related to seniors’ issues.

 Seniors will be seen in leadership roles.

It was very effective to have volunteer peers lead the local sessions, as opposed to presentations by “experts”.  It gave the dialogues a friendly, informal and accessible feeling where participants weren’t hesitant to ask questions and contribute.  It also lent the project a sense that ordinary citizens can have an impact for positive change.

Participating organizations will be talking to seniors and gathering information about their needs through their participation in the community events.

There was limited participation at the events by service providers but those that were able to attend had the opportunity to hear directly from older adults about their issues.

A programmer from the SCRD’s Parks and Recreation was the most consistent service provider attending the sessions, which was very beneficial in disseminating information about recreation opportunities and in providing input for more responsive programs.

There is an identified need for a Seniors Planning Table on the Sunshine Coast. The report from this project will be used to provide information for grant applications that will address this need.

A grant application to fund coordination for the Seniors Planning Table to the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation was successful.

The project will enhance the work of the CRC to build the volunteer base for seniors’ information and referral.

There is increased awareness of the work of the CRC and the opportunities to contribute through volunteering.

Information and referral coordinators from local agencies and organizations will have a better idea of what information seniors are seeking and will be able to work together to improve communication, accessibility, and partnerships.

The summary of findings will be distributed to local agencies and other stakeholders. The newly established Seniors Planning Table has a mandate, through collaboration and partnerships, to improve communication, service coordination, and access to appropriate services, and will be informed by the findings of this project.