The 3 ProblemsThese problems make up the themes for the hackathon.
West End Seniors’ Network
“The challenge that we are presenting to participants in the GeroHacks Hackathon is to envision innovative ways to address the issues of social isolation and loneliness among older adults in the West End of Vancouver.”
As one of the largest seniors’ centres in Vancouver, the West End Seniors’ Network (WESN) has three locations, over 900 members and more than 60 different programs and services for adults 55 years of age and older.
The West End neighbourhood is unique in part because of the older adults that live there. While the West End has proportionally the same number of older adults as other neighbourhoods in the city, the percentage of this population that lives alone is more than twice as high as the rest of Vancouver (61% vs. 29%, according to the 2016 census). The West End also has both a high proportion of older adults that rent in high-rise buildings and a high proportion of LGBTQ2S+ older adults compared to the rest of Vancouver. Furthermore, this neighbourhood also faces significant affordability challenges, with 26% of older adults considered to be low income.
Living alone, having low income, being LGBTQ2S+ and facing housing affordability and security challenges while living in high-rise buildings can all be important risk factors for social isolation and loneliness among older adults. This is an important issue because social isolation and loneliness have been found to lead to early mortality.
Social isolation and loneliness have now been identified as important public health issues impacting older adults. Last year, the City of Vancouver Seniors’ Advisory Committee released a report on this issue, and the National Seniors Council has also acknowledged that social isolation is an important issue for this population with three different reports over the past five years.
The challenge that we are presenting to participants in the Gerohacks Hackathon is to envision innovative ways to address the issues of social isolation and loneliness among older adults in the West End of Vancouver.
The Alzheimer Society of B.C.
The challenge that we are presenting to participants in the GeroHacks Hackathon is to imagine new approaches – including tools, educational strategies and other innovations – to help realize this vision of a dementia-friendly B.C.”
The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is committed to building a world where people living with dementia, their caregivers, families and friends are included, acknowledged and supported – a truly dementia-friendly province. In order to build that world, we need to move away from fear and denial of the illness, towards awareness and understanding. When we reduce stigma and build dementia-friendly environments, we are creating a B.C. where people affected by dementia can live better and remain socially engaged.
Negative attitudes held by friends, family and professionals can often discourage people from getting a diagnosis, seeking treatment and support or disclosing their illness. According to a Leger-led online survey conducted by the Alzheimer Society of Canada, 46 per cent of respondents said that they would feel ashamed or embarrassed if they had dementia and 61 per cent felt they would face discrimination of some kind.
A key strategy for reducing stigma and prioritizing social inclusion is the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s Dementia-Friendly Communities initiative which supports municipalities, the professional sector, community groups and the general public to become “dementia friendly”. The challenge that we are presenting to participants in the Gerohacks Hackathon is to imagine new approaches – including tools, educational strategies and other innovations – to help realize this vision of a dementia-friendly B.C.
What is a dementia-friendly community?
Additional resources and information.
- Dementia-Friendly Communities Local Government Toolkit: The Toolkit is a way that municipalities can engage with the concept of dementia-friendly communities, and self-guide through the process of working towards becoming dementia friendly. We have included practical examples from both rural and urban environments to inform our work.
- Dementia-Friendly Action Plans: The following are three of B.C.’s existing Dementia-Friendly Action Plans as an example for what actions municipalities in B.C. are taking to support people affected by dementia.
- Jim’s Story: Created in partnership with the City of Vancouver, this clip shows Advocate Jim Mann, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007, talk about what a dementia-friendly community means to him.
- Making your workplace dementia-friendly series: We have worked with expert committees to develop resources tailored to specific professional audience. We currently have guides for the housing, legal, finance and recreation sectors.
- Dementia-Friendly City Train the Trainer (hard copy available day of Hackathon): Created in partnership with the City of Vancouver, the Train the Trainer program instructs frontline municipal staff on how to deliver the Society’s standardized Dementia-Friendly City education to staff and volunteers in their workplace. This program aims to educate city staff about dementia, reduce stigma, raise awareness and provide practical suggestions about supporting people with dementia in the community.
The challenge that we present to Gerohacks participants are twofold:
1) Those who attend Community Based Organizations have a level of mobility / ability to attend. How do we achieve the same outcomes of Older British Columbians being Active, Connected and Engaged for those who do not have the means to attend programming/services at these centers (ie. Mobility challenged for transportation, live in very rural communities etc)?
2) How do we raise the profile and demonstrate the impact these services are having on lives of Older British Columbians, their families and caregivers?
Healthy Aging by United Way aims to help seniors stay at home and in their communities for longer by supporting older adults to live healthy lifestyles, be social connected and meaningfully engaged in their communities.
We work with community agencies, local, provincial, and federal governments, a diverse set of vested partners including donors, academia funders and intermediary/impact organizations towards a vision of a healthy, caring, inclusive community for all people. We embrace a holistic
setting where older adults have unrestricted access to community programs and services so that they can age in place, at home and remain independent for longer. United Way’s investments that support universal seniors’ wellness are bolstered by the larger Community-Based Seniors’
Services (CBSS) sector, which includes municipal governments and non-profit organizations that provide programming to older adults and their families. Together, we are paving the way towards an integrated, older adult centered model of care in British Columbia.
There is increasing evidence to show that the health prevention and promotion programming provided by the CBSS sector can improve the health trajectories for older adults and reduce health costs for older adults living with chronic conditions and at risk of frailty. The community based seniors’ services sector plays a key role in delivering cost-effective health promotion and prevention programming that helps to build resilience and foster the health and well-being of seniors. This is especially true amongst low-income and other vulnerable groups of seniors. By working to build stronger connections, coordinate, collaborate and increase capacity, the sector is supporting the well-being of older adults across the province and avoiding forced relocation. Raising the visibility of the sector and providing more support for the programming that the sector provides, are both critical to ensuring that B.C. has the capacity to address the growing challenges of an aging population, now and into the future.