FOCUS ON SENIORS: COMPASS guides the way

Opinion Apr 22, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

With the launch of the COMPASS project, the Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is leading the way once again.

The COMPASS is a new monitoring tool that consults with seniors and was created to get around the Master Aging Plan (MAP) – the strategic plan for an age-friendly community. There is nothing like it anywhere. It’s both novel and unique.

The pilot began with hiring a staff member responsible for the day-to-day activities of the COMPASS. Someone comfortable with seniors, with demonstrated experience, through personal or professional means was needed. Familiarity with the community and knowledge about programs and services for seniors was also required.

The right person needed exceptional listening skills and to be willing and able, but more importantly, truly excited about being a trailblazer in developing a brand new project.

The GRCOA was thrilled when Paul Scibetta accepted the offer of employment. He met all the posted requirements for education, experience, skill and more. Scibetta began in February 2014 and has never looked back.

His excitement and enthusiasm for the project is catching and his gentle, patient demeanour is warm and welcoming.

Working under his leadership, six women – all retirees – have been recruited to become COMPASS coaches.

“It has been exciting to observe the coaches taking ownership of their role,” Scibetta said. “They have truly embraced the GRCOA mission to promote the voice of seniors.”

These individuals all demonstrate excellent listening skills, too.

They are able to adjust to change with ease and they are genuinely excited about being trailblazers, too. Being a coach is about listening and chatting. It’s a conversation between two older adults and making a connection with them.

Scibetta and the coaches have formed a team. One thing they all relish is the monthly “Coaches Corner,” where they share their stories and provide feedback and suggestions for enhancements or changes to the project. Each coach volunteers for a three-hour shift in the GRCOA office each week.

To consult with seniors, the coaches meet with them one-on-one. It is done either in person in the office or by telephone, whichever method is most suitable to the situation.

Seniors talking to seniors understand one another. Their life paths may be different and they may have completely different experiences, but they do share one important similarity – they are all aging.

One aspect of the project that has changed significantly is the meeting locations for consulting with seniors. It did not take long before Scibetta and the coaches realized that in order to reach more seniors they would have to participate in outreach activities.

Now the team often heads to a retirement home, a seniors club or a health fair to meet seniors. Going to where seniors are makes sense.

It removes the need for travel and transportation arrangements to and from the office. Seniors are more likely to feel comfortable and at ease in places that are familiar to them. Visiting various locations allows GRCOA important opportunities to pass along information regarding the Master Aging Plan recommendations and to share information about upcoming events.

What will GRCOA do with the stories seniors share?

As a planning and research body, the information gathered will be used to further development of an age-friendly community. The stories about housing needs, transportation difficulties, financial worries and feeling respected – just to name a few – all provide excellent insight into a senior’s experience.

Reporting this information to municipalities, other organizations and seniors will guide decision-making and influence change.

What do the seniors gain from these conversations?

They find a listening ear and receive information about where to go to solve a concern. They can also find satisfaction knowing that by making a connection with a COMPASS coach through conversation, what they say can and will lead to important community change.

The coaches are thrilled with their role. For them it’s a chance to be a part of something incredible. They will continue to work their shift in the office and be available at community events, and they look forward to more connections and conversations with seniors.

The coaches will participate in the Age-Friendly Community Summit that will be co-chaired by Brant MPP Dave Levac and GRCOA.

If you are a senior and have a story to tell or want to be involved in the Age-Friendly Community Summit, please call the GRCOA office at 519-754-0777, ext. 438, for more information.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: COMPASS guides the way

Coaches, connections and conversations

Opinion Apr 22, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

With the launch of the COMPASS project, the Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is leading the way once again.

The COMPASS is a new monitoring tool that consults with seniors and was created to get around the Master Aging Plan (MAP) – the strategic plan for an age-friendly community. There is nothing like it anywhere. It’s both novel and unique.

The pilot began with hiring a staff member responsible for the day-to-day activities of the COMPASS. Someone comfortable with seniors, with demonstrated experience, through personal or professional means was needed. Familiarity with the community and knowledge about programs and services for seniors was also required.

The right person needed exceptional listening skills and to be willing and able, but more importantly, truly excited about being a trailblazer in developing a brand new project.

The GRCOA was thrilled when Paul Scibetta accepted the offer of employment. He met all the posted requirements for education, experience, skill and more. Scibetta began in February 2014 and has never looked back.

His excitement and enthusiasm for the project is catching and his gentle, patient demeanour is warm and welcoming.

Working under his leadership, six women – all retirees – have been recruited to become COMPASS coaches.

“It has been exciting to observe the coaches taking ownership of their role,” Scibetta said. “They have truly embraced the GRCOA mission to promote the voice of seniors.”

These individuals all demonstrate excellent listening skills, too.

They are able to adjust to change with ease and they are genuinely excited about being trailblazers, too. Being a coach is about listening and chatting. It’s a conversation between two older adults and making a connection with them.

Scibetta and the coaches have formed a team. One thing they all relish is the monthly “Coaches Corner,” where they share their stories and provide feedback and suggestions for enhancements or changes to the project. Each coach volunteers for a three-hour shift in the GRCOA office each week.

To consult with seniors, the coaches meet with them one-on-one. It is done either in person in the office or by telephone, whichever method is most suitable to the situation.

Seniors talking to seniors understand one another. Their life paths may be different and they may have completely different experiences, but they do share one important similarity – they are all aging.

One aspect of the project that has changed significantly is the meeting locations for consulting with seniors. It did not take long before Scibetta and the coaches realized that in order to reach more seniors they would have to participate in outreach activities.

Now the team often heads to a retirement home, a seniors club or a health fair to meet seniors. Going to where seniors are makes sense.

It removes the need for travel and transportation arrangements to and from the office. Seniors are more likely to feel comfortable and at ease in places that are familiar to them. Visiting various locations allows GRCOA important opportunities to pass along information regarding the Master Aging Plan recommendations and to share information about upcoming events.

What will GRCOA do with the stories seniors share?

As a planning and research body, the information gathered will be used to further development of an age-friendly community. The stories about housing needs, transportation difficulties, financial worries and feeling respected – just to name a few – all provide excellent insight into a senior’s experience.

Reporting this information to municipalities, other organizations and seniors will guide decision-making and influence change.

What do the seniors gain from these conversations?

They find a listening ear and receive information about where to go to solve a concern. They can also find satisfaction knowing that by making a connection with a COMPASS coach through conversation, what they say can and will lead to important community change.

The coaches are thrilled with their role. For them it’s a chance to be a part of something incredible. They will continue to work their shift in the office and be available at community events, and they look forward to more connections and conversations with seniors.

The coaches will participate in the Age-Friendly Community Summit that will be co-chaired by Brant MPP Dave Levac and GRCOA.

If you are a senior and have a story to tell or want to be involved in the Age-Friendly Community Summit, please call the GRCOA office at 519-754-0777, ext. 438, for more information.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: COMPASS guides the way

Coaches, connections and conversations

Opinion Apr 22, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

With the launch of the COMPASS project, the Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) is leading the way once again.

The COMPASS is a new monitoring tool that consults with seniors and was created to get around the Master Aging Plan (MAP) – the strategic plan for an age-friendly community. There is nothing like it anywhere. It’s both novel and unique.

The pilot began with hiring a staff member responsible for the day-to-day activities of the COMPASS. Someone comfortable with seniors, with demonstrated experience, through personal or professional means was needed. Familiarity with the community and knowledge about programs and services for seniors was also required.

The right person needed exceptional listening skills and to be willing and able, but more importantly, truly excited about being a trailblazer in developing a brand new project.

The GRCOA was thrilled when Paul Scibetta accepted the offer of employment. He met all the posted requirements for education, experience, skill and more. Scibetta began in February 2014 and has never looked back.

His excitement and enthusiasm for the project is catching and his gentle, patient demeanour is warm and welcoming.

Working under his leadership, six women – all retirees – have been recruited to become COMPASS coaches.

“It has been exciting to observe the coaches taking ownership of their role,” Scibetta said. “They have truly embraced the GRCOA mission to promote the voice of seniors.”

These individuals all demonstrate excellent listening skills, too.

They are able to adjust to change with ease and they are genuinely excited about being trailblazers, too. Being a coach is about listening and chatting. It’s a conversation between two older adults and making a connection with them.

Scibetta and the coaches have formed a team. One thing they all relish is the monthly “Coaches Corner,” where they share their stories and provide feedback and suggestions for enhancements or changes to the project. Each coach volunteers for a three-hour shift in the GRCOA office each week.

To consult with seniors, the coaches meet with them one-on-one. It is done either in person in the office or by telephone, whichever method is most suitable to the situation.

Seniors talking to seniors understand one another. Their life paths may be different and they may have completely different experiences, but they do share one important similarity – they are all aging.

One aspect of the project that has changed significantly is the meeting locations for consulting with seniors. It did not take long before Scibetta and the coaches realized that in order to reach more seniors they would have to participate in outreach activities.

Now the team often heads to a retirement home, a seniors club or a health fair to meet seniors. Going to where seniors are makes sense.

It removes the need for travel and transportation arrangements to and from the office. Seniors are more likely to feel comfortable and at ease in places that are familiar to them. Visiting various locations allows GRCOA important opportunities to pass along information regarding the Master Aging Plan recommendations and to share information about upcoming events.

What will GRCOA do with the stories seniors share?

As a planning and research body, the information gathered will be used to further development of an age-friendly community. The stories about housing needs, transportation difficulties, financial worries and feeling respected – just to name a few – all provide excellent insight into a senior’s experience.

Reporting this information to municipalities, other organizations and seniors will guide decision-making and influence change.

What do the seniors gain from these conversations?

They find a listening ear and receive information about where to go to solve a concern. They can also find satisfaction knowing that by making a connection with a COMPASS coach through conversation, what they say can and will lead to important community change.

The coaches are thrilled with their role. For them it’s a chance to be a part of something incredible. They will continue to work their shift in the office and be available at community events, and they look forward to more connections and conversations with seniors.

The coaches will participate in the Age-Friendly Community Summit that will be co-chaired by Brant MPP Dave Levac and GRCOA.

If you are a senior and have a story to tell or want to be involved in the Age-Friendly Community Summit, please call the GRCOA office at 519-754-0777, ext. 438, for more information.