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Aging & Seniors Resources from Health Canada

OHPE Bulletin #40.1 February 6, 1998

A. Experience in Action: A Community Dissemination Kit
1. The Kit Includes
2. Using the Materials -
a) Extending the Dialogue
b) Applying the Lessons
c) The Big question - Where to go from here?
d) A Checklist for Effective Leadership & Consensus Building
3. Where to order the Kit

B. The Safe Living Guide: Home Safety for Seniors

C. Aging Vignettes from NACA

D. NACA Position on Determining Health Care Priorities

A. Experience in Action: A National Forum for Healthy Aging
A Community Dissemination Kit

The Centre for Health Promotion under contribution agreement with Health Canada has recently released a community tool kit related to Experience in Action: A National Forum for Healthy Aging. The information in this kit was developed from a cross-Canada process designed to gather lessons learned from seniors' community projects funded by Health Canada over the last 25 years. The kit was developed by the Centre for Health Promotion, University of Toronto with the participation and support of the New Horizons: Partners in Aging program of Health Canada.

Experience in Action: A National Forum for Healthy Aging was held between February 9 and 11, 1997, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Participants in the Forum included representatives of seniors'
organizations and community projects from across the country that had been funded by Health Canada under the New Horizons: Partners in Aging program. The Forum concluded with a synthesis of what delegates said about the lessons learned through their participation in a variety of projects across the country. Participants suggested actions that seniors can take in the future to improve their well-being and to contribute to healthy aging. A commitment was made by all of the delegates to share what they had learned in their own communities and to make healthy aging a goal for all of Canadian society.

The Experience in Action Forum was part of a three-step process to consolidate what had been learned. This process included several provincial fora, a meeting of national projects, six regional fora and a consultant analysis of some of the key learnings from a selected number of projects.

The Proceedings of Experience in Action: A National Forum for Healthy Aging, February 9-11, 1997.

A short Video filmed during the Forum. It provides a synopsis of the presentations, small group sessions and informal discussions which shaped the nature and outcome of the events.

Nine Fact Sheets drawn from all stages of the information gathering process. The following topics are covered in these Fact Sheets:

Core Values in Seniors' Programs
Effective Community Development
Participation and Leadership by Seniors
Volunteer Recruitment, Retention and Recognition
Effective Project Management
Social and Community Change
Sources and Resources



Extending the Dialogue
There are many other ways for you to use these materials in your community:

* in community information sessions, workshops and consultations to share best practices and/or to address local issues of interest and concern

* to prepare handbooks, information sheets, brochures, manuals and community action kits to translate experience into practical action

* for training staff, volunteers, professionals, mentors, leaders, caregivers, and trainers-of-trainers as background and rationale for community surveys and research on local assets and needs, and on
evaluation of project activity

* as resources for community information centres, prevention clearinghouses and resource exchanges

* to promote public and professional awareness and education through speakers bureaus, the media (including local community newspapers, radio, television and the Net) and use in displays, posters and
promotional materials

* to convince potential funders of the benefits of supporting community programs for seniors.

Looking Ahead: Applying the Lessons

The Forum identified eight ways to apply what has been learned through the New Horizons: Partners in Aging experience. You may find it helpful to examine your current efforts in light of these to see if they can be of assistance in your ongoing work. Some of the lessons may be helpful to you in planning future activities. For example, the materials suggest:

* A common vision or goal can often be a useful-and critical-means of bringing diverse interests together for sustained action at the local level.

* All research does not have to be numbers-based and impersonal. There are many user-friendly tools that have been developed and tested to assist in local research and evaluation, including story-telling. Research can be relevant-and fun!

* Information-sharing is more than just getting the facts. And it is more than getting access to the Internet! It is understanding that we all have different needs and capacities. It is remembering that simple things like large print, alternate formats and plain language are all important to the success of initiatives.

* Today's structures for local networking, cooperation and action may not be the total solution for tomorrow's challenges. Periodically, organizations need to assess their governance, mission, structure, resourcing and staffing. We need to view change as an opportunity for an awakening, not a wake.

These are some of the key lessons which participants identified over the course of the Forum. Invite people to identify their own learnings and to explore what this means for effective action in your community.

The Big Question- Where do we go from here?

The materials suggest that there are all kinds of ways to share information about what works, what doesn't work and how to make things work better. But, there are many outstanding questions, too.

Someone once said that in today's world there are no right answers, just right questions! Maybe it is best left to the community to come up with the right questions. Here are a few questions you may want to discuss to explore the status of programs for seniors in your community:

* What current programs exist that benefit seniors and meet their needs?

* How can we build successful partnerships and networks to help sustain these programs?

* In our community, are issues seen and addressed from an "assets" perspective rather than a "weaknesses" perspective?

* How can we strengthen this approach to consensus-building and action?

* What are the critical issues that affect the health and well-being of seniors and fall outside of the traditional "health"

* sphere? What skills, experience and expertise can we bring to bear on improvements?

* How can seniors' issues be framed in an intergenerational way that promotes cooperation and integrated efforts in our community?

* Is the image of seniors in our community one of "custodians and champions of civic values", as well as one of consumers of goods and services? How can we strengthen the former in all local activities?

A Checklist for Effective Leadership and Consensus-building

Over the course of the Forum- and in the materials-a checklist emerged on building local consensus for action, change and growth.

Some of the key factors are:

* respecting diversity in people's assets and needs
* ensuring personal control and social supports
* involving seniors in all stages of planning and action
* using an intergenerational approach
* addressing the many factors associated with health
* forming the right partnerships and building coalitions
* promoting independence
* supporting continuous learning

Whatever the process or the event, you may want to keep these in mind-and expand on the list-as you work toward a better tomorrow.

The kit is available by contacting Rick Wilson at

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B. THE SAFE LIVING GUIDE: A Guide to Home Safety for Seniors

This guide will give you some ideas about what you can do to prevent injuries in and around your home. It looks at two main areas: your home and yourself.

Section I - Your home - includes a home safety checklist, suggestions of various consumer products that can add to your safety, as well as ideas for renovation planning.

Section II - Yourself - discusses how you can modify your personal lifestyle to reduce your risk of injury by looking at physical activity, attitudes and the use of medications.

This guide also contains several stories that show how people who made changes in their homes, or in their lives benefited from them. Practical information in the form of fact sheets and tips, as well as a
resource section, complete the guide.

The guide will be useful to seniors and those who care for them. It can be used by itself or in the context of discussions or workshops with seniors. As such, the guide is adaptable and can be used to meet particular needs.

As the old saying goes: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Likewise, taking action to prevent home injuries can help you to live comfortably and safely in your own home for many years to come.

This guide is meant to be a practical tool to help you along the way.

Division of Aging and Seniors
Health Canada
473 Albert Street
Postal Locator 4203A
Ottawa ON K1A 0K9
Tel: (613) 952-7606 Fax (613) 957-7627

This guide is available in {Adobe Acrobat Reader] PDF format.

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AGING VIGNETTES- National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA)

Aging Vignettes have been designed by the National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA) to provide a statistical portrait of seniors in Canada. They are produced as part of NACA's mandate to disseminate information and are intended for people who are interested in aging and who care about seniors.

These Vignettes were first collected in 1992 to provide background material for a panel discussion looking at the future of aging in Canada. The panel was held in honour of the International Day for the
Elderly which is celebrated every October 1st. It is clear they have a wider use and thus NACA is making them available to its readership

In these Vignettes, the word 'seniors' refers to people 65+. This is not meant to suggest that the population group 65+ represents a homogeneous group. The Council recognizes that seniors are as
heterogeneous and often more so than other age groups.

As a rule the latest data available were cited. Because the sources are varied and cover a number of years, the year the data were collected is referenced.

*Please note that this series of Aging Vignettes are available by:

downloading in choice of 3 formats at

or contacting the National Advisory Council on Aging for printed copies
National Advisory Council on Aging
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9
tel: (613) 957-1968 FAX: (613) 957-9938

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From the Health Promotion & Programs Branch - Division of Aging & Seniors


The National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA) consulted health economist Douglas Angus and major seniors' organizations with the aim of establishing principles to assist in distinguishing essential from
non-essential health care services. In developing its position, NACA considered the ethical principles involved in the distribution of public resources and the levels at which health care decisions are made.

Publication available in [Adobe Acrobat] PDF format:

or by contacting:
National Advisory Council on Aging
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9
tel: (613) 957-1968 FAX: (613) 957-9938