In 2021, the Resource Centre’s Sunshine Coast Seniors Planning Table participated in an evaluation program in partnership with United Way BC entitled, Project Impact Healthy Aging.
Funded by the Ministry of Health and completed in partnership with Dialogues in Action, this evaluation program helps organizations in the seniors services sector to prove the impact they are having, and improve what they can move forward with even greater impact.
The outcomes of this research study are published in the following: Sunshine Coast Seniors Planning Table Project Impact Report.
Some of the findings and responses to this research study have included the following:
1. Think tank for older adult service delivery
The SPT is a think tank for people and organizations involved in older adult service delivery on the Coast. A number of voices contribute to identifying the issue and finding a path forward together.
2. Produces good citizenship
Members spoke powerfully about how the SPT encourages public engagement and produces good citizens. The SPT helps us members to make better and more informed decisions when creating services for older adults.
3. Community of Practice
The data showed that the SPT has begun to function as a community of practice. Several members pull together working groups to focus on addressing certain issues. The SPT is a forum for mutual support, to share best practices and wisdom, set goals, and encourage ongoing interaction and collaboration.
4. An age-friendly community cares about matters of the heart
Following our 2017 report on age-friendly communities, participants in the survey noted that addressing physical barriers is just one issue, and we should take into account the complexity of the human experience. An age-friendly community needs to touch on social aspects, such as ageism, elder abuse, isolation, poverty and the needs of the LGBQT2+ community.
5. There is a desire at the table for the exchange of intergenerational wisdom
The surveyed members identified a lack of formalized intergenerational exchange. The SPT should explore community partnerships with youth organizations or a youth planning table.
6. The SPT is a model of advocacy for all levels of government
The SPT has been involved in working groups at all levels of government, as well as advocacy with our MP, MLA, Federal Ministers and the BC Seniors’ advocate. The information has returned back to the table for further discussion and our SPT model has been discussed outside of the Sunshine Coast as a potential framework for other regional SPT’s.
7. There is a powerful sense of belonging
The survey asked members how many work-related interactions took place with other members outside of meetings. We found out that 3/5ths of our members have met a few times, several times or regularly outside of scheduled meetings! The community has substantially increased awareness and knowledge of local issues and created a powerful sense of meaning among members.
8. An instant and quick network to learn about the local players
For a good two-thirds of members, , involvement with the SPT led to a significant increase in familiarity with other member organizations who serve seniors in the community, thus not only short-circuiting potentially time-consuming attempts to get to know the relevant “players” in the sector but also provisioning access to the networks of these contacts.
9. Social isolation is the key challenge today
Considering the burden that isolation presents we were heartened to find that survey respondents had overwhelmingly added this lens to their work following our research on the subject and subsequently provided training and awareness raising as well as exploring local solutions.