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June 28, 2024

Emerging insights: re-envisioning community supports for older adults

Justine Cleghorn
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By 2030, nearly a quarter of Canadians will be over 65[1]. Seniors are the fastest-growing population in the country, which means it’s more important than ever to ensure they have access to the supports they need as they age.

For over 20 years, we’ve played a leading role in bringing together key partners, building capacity for quality improvement, and supporting our health care system think and act as one system – it’s what we do best.

To build on that momentum, we convened over 100 health and community leaders for a one-day collaborative workshop to share collective learnings, identify shared goals, and discover ways of coordinating our efforts to improve the health and well-being of older adults in Saskatchewan.

Together, we made meaningful connections, exchanged innovative ideas, and worked toward strengthening supports and services for older adults so they may thrive wherever they call home.

The best part? This is just the beginning.

Thrive at Home Workshop

On April 29, we gathered at Wanuskewin Heritage Park to host the Thrive at Home Workshop: Re-Envisioning Community Supports for Older Adults,an opportunity to begin building an ecosystem of support for community-dwelling adults in Saskatchewan.

Facilitated by world-renowned quality improvement facilitator and Strategic Advisor with NHS Horizons, Helen Bevan, we leveraged the collective wisdom in the room to identify opportunities for transformative action while acknowledging our present realities, strengths, and challenges.

“This is about building community, sparking new connections, and using the many different perspectives here today to re-envision how we support older adults to thrive at home.”

Tracey Sherin, Chief Executive Officer HQC

Insights that emerged  

Using rapid insights methodology developed by NHS Horizons, our team captured the innovative ideas and discussions shared at the event in an Insights Report, highlighting the potential next steps in re-envisioning the future of community supports for older adults.

Some of the insights we uncovered included:

  • Aging well is personal.
    Thriving at home means living life on your own terms, in an inclusive, accessible community that enables you to age with dignity and choice.
  • The current system can be challenging to navigate.
    Given the complexity of our system, there’s appetite to better understand the ways we can support older adults and caregivers.
  • A holistic approach to well-being is key.
    When it comes to meeting the needs of older adults, we can benefit from shifting to a community-first mindset focused on community, kinship, and belonging.
  • The future can be co-created by sharing and learning together.
    Creating the space for conversations that lead us towards action are an important part of how we move forward together.
  • We need to act now.
    Access to key services, such as transportation, safe housing, and home care, are needed now for older adults and caregivers.

The future is now

Among the invigorating discussions at the workshop, one thing became clear – there is energy and excitement to continue this journey together, an unanimous call for action.

However, we all know change doesn’t happen overnight – nor in isolation. Partnerships and collaboration are key components to achieving tangible, lasting improvements in health and health care for everyone in Saskatchewan.

To keep us moving forward, we established the Thrive at Home Action Community, a virtual space focused on initiating connections, learning, and action. This community is open to all individuals and organizations who support older adults in aging where they call home.

The Thrive at Home Action Community aims to:

  • strengthen connections among those interested in enhancing community-based care and social supports for older adults
  • share learnings to adapt knowledge to local contexts
  • address challenges by using our collective voice to spark innovation, generate action, and advocate for what older adults need

Over the next several months, we’ll continue on this journey of change by hosting a variety of activities including facilitated networking to build relationships, system mapping to build a shared understanding of the current system, learning circles to better understand the challenges facing older adults, and opportunities to share what we’re learning as a community.

“All change, even large and powerful change, begins when a few people start talking with one another about something they care about.”

Margaret Wheatley

Networks spark innovation

You may be familiar with the concept of a network as a group of interconnected people – you are likely connected to many different networks such as your family, your friend circle, your professional contacts, and community networks. However, what we’ve learned is not all networks are created equal.

Some networks focus on connection while others emphasize learning. The Thrive at Home Action Community takes the purpose of a network one step further – to action.

Together, as a coalition working towards the same goal, we can drive change and strengthen community-based care and social supports for older adults in Saskatchewan.

Our role in the health care system

We partner with and support health organizations, government, community organizations, and communities across Saskatchewan to strive towards better health and better care for all. 

Much of what affects our health is not in fact related to our health care system or services, but rather how we live, work, and age. Working alongside our partners, we’re committed to finding new ways to target the root cause of health and wellness, improving the quality of life of our community.

Acting as a conductor of change by strengthening connections between those supporting older adults across multiple sectors, we’re creating a community of shared practices, innovation, and support.

Join us!

Inspired by this work? Join our Thrive at Home Action Community and be part of enhancing community-based care and social supports for older adults in Saskatchewan! Simply email Jenn Wright to inquire.

[1] CBC News, Growing older, staying at home. June 2024.