Promoting Mental Health and Wellness in Older Adults and their Caregivers (2016)

The goal of the 2016 funding cycle was to promote innovative community based partnerships and service delivery that foster improved health and social outcomes for older adults and their caregivers in British Columbia. Funds were awarded to 13 projects.

Grant Recipients

Engaging Abundant Community – Association of Neighbourhood Houses

Engaging Abundant Community focuses upon addressing the needs of seniors living within the culturally diverse neighbourhood of Frog Hollow. Significantly, this program focuses upon engaging older adults within the community through “slow-walks” -wherein older adults take regular slow walks together going door-to- door to distribute linguistically appropriate information / information on programming to older adults within the community. Further outreach and relationship building is being developed through connecting caregivers with community, peer support, and education at Renfrew Care Centre. In addition, Engaging Abundant Community will strive to develop intercultural dialogue around mental health literacy through a series of kitchen table conversation circles.

Wise and Well – Canadian Mental Health Association – Kelowna

Wise and Well consists of three complimentary and interconnected strategies designed to promote the mental health of a diversity of older adults in Kelowna. Strategies include a focus on capacity building via an evidence-based awareness and training package for key community members; volunteer outreach services aiming to promote, prevent and improve mental health outcomes for older adults through social connection; and through collaboration with cultural groups including Westbank First Nation, and the Sikh community, to guide implementation of mental health education in culturally meaningful social gatherings.

Elders Wellness Coordinator - Okanagan Nation Alliance

Okanagan Nation Alliance has used project funds to hire an Elders Wellness Coordinator, with the overall goal of improving mental wellness literacy using a trauma-informed, strengths-based approach. The Elders Wellness coordinator is planning to provide information sessions and activities within the ONA community, around identified risk factors for Elders and their caregivers, including grief; depression and anxiety; chronic disease; memory loss, Alzheimer’s and dementia; Elder abuse; loneliness and isolation; effects of alcohol misuse; prescription drug and pain management; among others.

Best at Home: Prevention Through Active Engagement - Nlaka’pamux Services Society

Nlaka’pamux Services Society project aims to increase physical activity levels of Elders in First Nation communities, as a preventative measure in addressing mental health and substance use issues. The project contains three core elements, including engagement of Community Health Workers and Home Care Aides in the provision of SAIL (Strategies and Actions for Independent Living) a home based exercise and safety program. Additionally, the project includes delivery of a number of exercise programs (Steady Feet, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Walk and Learn) at accessible venues with communities. The project also includes training of related health workers and community members in aforementioned exercise programming.

Stepping Up, Stepping Out - People for a Healthy Community On Gabriola Island Society (PHC)

This project involves support programming for at-risk seniors, those with mild-moderate mental health challenges, and caregivers on Galiano and Quadra Islands. Programming include arts, cultural and exercise activities, with the goal of improving physical well-being, increasing social inclusion, self-confidence, and a sense of accomplishment among program participants. Types of activities include walking clubs, exercise classes, mental health promotion workshops, lunch-time social gatherings, art projects, music, and relaxation activities.

Kwadacha Elders Trailblazers Project - Kwadacha Nation

The Kwadacha Elders Trailblazers Project places elders in an active role in defining those programmatic supports which promote mental wellness. Through this project Elders are asked to define and participate in the implementation of supports that promote mental health while also assuming responsibility for their own health at the decision-making table. The overall goal of this project is to integrate Elders into formal decision-making processes regarding Kwadacha mental health programming.

Aging Well at Home in the Downtown Eastside - First United Church Community Ministry Society

First United Church has developed an accessible and inviting social support program for seniors living within First United’s social housing in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside. Such programming aims to promote mental wellness among at-risk seniors through provision of a variety of weekly activities, including weekly meal and wellness workshops (financial planning, diet planning for diabetes, cultural and artistic healing tools, among other wellness activities); weekly gardening and skills exchange; outings to social and cultural programs,; and non-medical home support provided through volunteers located within the local housing community.

OASIS - Pathways Addictions Resource Centre

Pathway’s OASIS project is focused upon establishing an outreach program to provide education and counselling support to older adults in the Penticton area, with the goal of raising awareness, encouraging healthy lifestyles, and developing successful strategies to reduce the risk of substance use and abuse. Various aspects of the project focus upon primary prevention through community education; secondary prevention through screening and education; and tertiary prevention through clinical intervention and referral.

Circles of Support - Island Community Mental Health Association

This service innovation project involves a number of components focused upon caregiver and senior support on Vancouver Island, specific to the needs of dementia. Peer support circles have been established for unpaid caregivers to address specific needs for socialization, loneliness, anxiety and sharing of information in supporting older adults with dementia. In addition, work is being undertaken to train the trainer for individual caregiver and senior support circles. Facilitators are asked to undertake a number of actions, in helping to develop and strengthen a circle of support around the senior. A community of practice will be developed for such facilitators, to provide a forum for sharing knowledge, and recruiting and training other facilitators.

Seniors Outreach and Connect - Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Community Services

The Seniors Outreach and Connect program strives to promote the mental health and wellness of older adults in Maple Ridge, through provision of client-centred, community based access to outreach services for isolated/ and or at-risk seniors. The project consists of a comprehensive, wrap-around approach to meet the mental health needs of local older adults. Several outreach strategies are being used, including the hiring of a Senior Outreach Worker; and training and support of Volunteer Senior Peer Workers. In addition, the project aims to incorporate a seniors planning table (led by seniors for seniors) to facilitate communication between community agencies and service providers.

Nak’azdli Elders: Us Past Present and Future - Nak’azdli Band Council

The Nak’azdli Band Council’s project is focused upon empowering Elders to take a leadership role in identifying, developing and refining existing health and wellness programming to meet their needs.

STEP - John Howard Society of the Thompson Region

The STEP program functions as a coordinating service between older adults who have been incarcerated and have completed their community release conditions, and community resources, the health care system, and First Nation services and activities. Such coordination involves advocating for home care / assessment for assisted living; accessing mental health services, addictions or harm reduction, and traditional healing programs. STEP staff provide an intensive four month direct service program to this population who require significant interventions and support to improve overall mental wellness and health. STEP works to augment any services individuals already have in place, while also addressing service gaps, and strives to provide this coordinating service in a manner which is respectful of the individual and their living situation. STEP provides crisis intervention for seniors who do not require daily or weekly contact with project staff, along with learning opportunities of interest to the individual.

Circles of Wellbeing – Bridging Cultures and Generations for Community Wellness REACH Community Health Centre

This project aims to connect older adults (ages 65+) and youth from diverse cultural backgrounds, in mutually beneficially projects and activities. The overall goal is to improve intergenerational communication, to help improve the self-esteem and life- satisfaction of seniors, and to create a forum for the social inclusion of seniors in East Vancouver. This will be achieved through a number of different project activities, including “Indigeneyez” training for group facilitators and community members; facilitation of senior-led sharing circles; monthly community dinners; and day long symposium at project culmination.