Improving Access To Community Support Services for Seniors from Diverse Communities
The Improving Access for Seniors Program is the Hamilton Council on Aging’s longest running program. It has been funded by the United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton since 2007 as a way to bring information about programs and services to seniors from diverse communities. Currently the program focuses on bringing information to older adults with barriers to accessing information, within a seniors apartment building in downtown Hamilton.
Seniors from diverse communities are more marginalized than older persons at large, not only due to their age but also due to language, cultural, and isolating experience barriers. A major challenge we have identified is that while agencies typically respond to and create programs for individuals, diverse community members see themselves as a collective and outside of mainstream Canadian society. We work with agencies to help them become more responsive to diverse communities by improving their professional cultural competence and with seniors to gain access to information about the programs and services that exist.
This program was designed to bridge health and social service agencies and target diverse communities by:
- assisting agencies to develop the capacity to serve clients in concrete ways;
- generating awareness in diverse communities of the services that are available to them and helping community members to navigate the systems and find their way in.
Highlights from 2015-2016
- An information room is located on-site for residents to learn about community programs and services
- An English as a Second Language class was offered in partnership with St.Charles Adult Education Centre, twice a week for Beginners English students. We are currently recruiting a qualified volunteer to continue offering this valuable program in 2016-2017!
- Information presentations are provided with an interpreter to raise awareness about the community programs and services available to older adults.
- A community kitchen is provided free of charge in partnership with Public Health Services.
- Special presentations from HCoA and community partners are facilitated for Access participants, with materials translated into different languages (i.e. Seniors Anti-Bullying Presentation).
- 26 professionals from 8 organizations serving older adults and The City of Hamilton attended our Cultural Competency and Diversity Workshop, expertly facilitated by Professor Anju Joshi. This workshop is offered on an annual basis as a resource for professionals working with older adults.
Partners and Volunteers
HCoA is proud to offer the Improving Access for Seniors Program in partnership with CityHousing Hamilton, Public Health Services, St.Joseph’s Home Care, Catholic Family Services, and many other community partners.
This program would not be possible without the tremendous contribution from our wonderful volunteers Claudette Joseph and Molly Chang.