Reducing Older Adult Isolation through Social Prescribing
Community Connection was approved for a five-year project (2019-2024), under the New Horizons for Seniors Program. It was a pan-Canadian call for proposals for projects aimed at developing approaches to increase the social inclusion of older adults through a collective impact model.
A multi-sectoral group of leaders across Simcoe County guide and help our team oversee the project. This Leadership Table is a passionate group of leaders from black, Indigenous, 2S-LGBTQ communities and senior staff from varying service providers. Our team and members of the Leadership Table participated in collective impact training and coaching from the Tamarack Institute.
The work streams of the project are:
Linking isolated older adults through social prescribing to connect them to meaningful activities, including social events, and volunteer opportunities, helping them to become more connected to their communities. Our project team is working towards:
- Increasing the number of medical organizations referring older adults.
- Increasing the number of providers referring isolated older adults.
- Increasing the number of older adults referred for social isolation.
Updating our VolunteerConnection.ca website and searchable directory to improve and increase older adults’ access to volunteer opportunities and social activities and becoming better connected to their community to prevent and reduce social isolation. We have modified our database processes to improve consistency and sustainability and our team participates in outreach activities to organizations to increase the number of organizations contributing to the volunteer database with opportunities.
Creating a centralized calendar of social activities available to older adults across Simcoe County that is easily accessible to older adults. Five calendars (South Georgian Bay, South Simcoe, Barrie, Orilla, and North Simcoe) have been created, and are maintained by volunteers with support from our Data Curation team. We also include a calendar for virtual activities and links to social clubs and special interest groups across Simcoe County.
To gather the “voice of the senior” and to provide feedback on the project, a survey was designed and distributed through various methods. 810 surveys were completed. We also held groups in five areas across Simcoe County, and one was held virtually. Key findings from the survey and also the results of the focus groups, continue to inform and guide the project priorities.
The project has taken on an additional dimension of progressive work that will enable the social prescribing referrals from health care practitioners and the community to be seamless and coordinated between sectors and improve service delivery. This work has directly influenced our work in digital innovation and our goal to develop a Community Information Exchange.
We participate in a Community of Practice with 20+ organizations across Canada, which also received funding to reduce senior isolation through a collective impact model. This group provides a shared context to communicate and share information, stories, and experiences to build more understanding and insight into the issues of social isolation for older adults.