FOCUS ON SENIORS: We've only just begun...

Opinion Oct 28, 2016 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

When planning the age-friendly community summit series, it was decided to hold eight discussions or “gatherings.”

Each gathering would focus on one aspect of daily living, as defined by the World Health Organization, bringing together older adults, seniors, caregivers, community stakeholders, agencies and organizations that work with seniors.

“It’s hard to believe it’s over,” was a common refrain expressed during the eighth and final gathering on Friday, and yet there was lightness in the air. A feeling of celebration, almost. When partners MPP Dave Levac and the Grand River Council on Aging came up with the idea that spawned a two-and-a-half-year journey, they had no idea what to expect.

From start to finish, the results have been outstanding.  

The core planning group included representatives from the offices of MP Phil McColeman and Levac, staff from the City of Brantford and the County of Brant, representatives from Six Nations and New Credit, the Grand River Council on Aging and several retirees. This dedicated group of people met every month for 30 meetings in total. Their commitment is outstanding.

Each gathering was carried out like a workshop. Grand River Council on Aging board president Lucy Marco provided leadership and guidance to the process.  

But her contribution went far beyond leading morning discussions. She chaired the monthly meetings. She led the eight gatherings using PowerPoint presentations that she created. She developed the participants’ packages, as well as those used by the facilitators. She wrote detailed interim reports after each gathering. And she has accepted the challenge to write the final report that will capture the insights and reflections from all eight gatherings.

Staff at Levac’s office was responsible for the co-ordination of the many details behind the scenes. As an example, putting together the individual files of information for participants and facilitators ensuring sufficient copies for everyone was another huge task. A minimum of 50 participant packages and eight facilitator packages were needed each time.

Confirming the logistics for the location of each gathering, confirming the number of registrants to the food donors, arranging for press conferences, producing media release and distributing the preliminary report are also responsibilities that fell to Carrie Sinkowski and Sherri Pate.

Seasons Bell Lane graciously supplied the coffee, tea and snacks for each gathering. This gift was enjoyed by more than 450 seniors and 60 facilitators over the two and half years of the summit series.  

The welcome extended to the participants by Six Nations for the third and sixth gatherings were phenomenal. Chief Ava Hill joined Levac, McColeman and Marco in extending warm wishes. The traditional welcome was offered by 12-year-old Adam Martin in his native language, which was followed by a translation provided by his dad, Jeff. Morning snacks and the luncheon astounded everyone. The native doughnuts, in particular, were a big hit. 

From time to time, other guests such as Brantford Mayor Chris Friel and former Minister Responsible for Seniors Mario Sergio dropped by. There is no question that the age-friendly community summit and the eight gatherings attracted notice.   

It is the participants that deserve special recognition. Some people attended gatherings by topic of choice. Some people attended one time and gave their input. Others attended all eight gatherings. Their contribution is priceless and also outstanding.

Where do we go from here? Some recommendations can be adapted quite easily. Increasing the size of fonts on business cards for improved legibility is one quick fix. Others will take time and money to accomplish. For instance it has long been recognized that the demand for long-term care beds far exceeds the supply and this need will continue to grow.

The Grand River Council on Aging works to promote the voice of seniors and their lived experience to encourage the development of age-friendly policies and procedures throughout the community. As the age-friendly community summit and the eight gatherings draw to a close, the GRCOA is already looking ahead.

There will be other workshops and focus groups and opportunities. The search has begun for age-friendly community neighbourhood champions and tentative plans call for two events focused on housing issues. 

Marco concluded each gathering with suggestions for what people can do on their own.

Practise respect. Become informed. Be a volunteer. Carry the age-friendly banner.

To everyone who participated in the summit, your contribution was outstanding. See you next time.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: We've only just begun...

Grand River Council on Aging looks to future at conclusion of summit series

Opinion Oct 28, 2016 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

When planning the age-friendly community summit series, it was decided to hold eight discussions or “gatherings.”

Each gathering would focus on one aspect of daily living, as defined by the World Health Organization, bringing together older adults, seniors, caregivers, community stakeholders, agencies and organizations that work with seniors.

“It’s hard to believe it’s over,” was a common refrain expressed during the eighth and final gathering on Friday, and yet there was lightness in the air. A feeling of celebration, almost. When partners MPP Dave Levac and the Grand River Council on Aging came up with the idea that spawned a two-and-a-half-year journey, they had no idea what to expect.

From start to finish, the results have been outstanding.  

The core planning group included representatives from the offices of MP Phil McColeman and Levac, staff from the City of Brantford and the County of Brant, representatives from Six Nations and New Credit, the Grand River Council on Aging and several retirees. This dedicated group of people met every month for 30 meetings in total. Their commitment is outstanding.

Each gathering was carried out like a workshop. Grand River Council on Aging board president Lucy Marco provided leadership and guidance to the process.  

But her contribution went far beyond leading morning discussions. She chaired the monthly meetings. She led the eight gatherings using PowerPoint presentations that she created. She developed the participants’ packages, as well as those used by the facilitators. She wrote detailed interim reports after each gathering. And she has accepted the challenge to write the final report that will capture the insights and reflections from all eight gatherings.

Staff at Levac’s office was responsible for the co-ordination of the many details behind the scenes. As an example, putting together the individual files of information for participants and facilitators ensuring sufficient copies for everyone was another huge task. A minimum of 50 participant packages and eight facilitator packages were needed each time.

Confirming the logistics for the location of each gathering, confirming the number of registrants to the food donors, arranging for press conferences, producing media release and distributing the preliminary report are also responsibilities that fell to Carrie Sinkowski and Sherri Pate.

Seasons Bell Lane graciously supplied the coffee, tea and snacks for each gathering. This gift was enjoyed by more than 450 seniors and 60 facilitators over the two and half years of the summit series.  

The welcome extended to the participants by Six Nations for the third and sixth gatherings were phenomenal. Chief Ava Hill joined Levac, McColeman and Marco in extending warm wishes. The traditional welcome was offered by 12-year-old Adam Martin in his native language, which was followed by a translation provided by his dad, Jeff. Morning snacks and the luncheon astounded everyone. The native doughnuts, in particular, were a big hit. 

From time to time, other guests such as Brantford Mayor Chris Friel and former Minister Responsible for Seniors Mario Sergio dropped by. There is no question that the age-friendly community summit and the eight gatherings attracted notice.   

It is the participants that deserve special recognition. Some people attended gatherings by topic of choice. Some people attended one time and gave their input. Others attended all eight gatherings. Their contribution is priceless and also outstanding.

Where do we go from here? Some recommendations can be adapted quite easily. Increasing the size of fonts on business cards for improved legibility is one quick fix. Others will take time and money to accomplish. For instance it has long been recognized that the demand for long-term care beds far exceeds the supply and this need will continue to grow.

The Grand River Council on Aging works to promote the voice of seniors and their lived experience to encourage the development of age-friendly policies and procedures throughout the community. As the age-friendly community summit and the eight gatherings draw to a close, the GRCOA is already looking ahead.

There will be other workshops and focus groups and opportunities. The search has begun for age-friendly community neighbourhood champions and tentative plans call for two events focused on housing issues. 

Marco concluded each gathering with suggestions for what people can do on their own.

Practise respect. Become informed. Be a volunteer. Carry the age-friendly banner.

To everyone who participated in the summit, your contribution was outstanding. See you next time.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: We've only just begun...

Grand River Council on Aging looks to future at conclusion of summit series

Opinion Oct 28, 2016 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

When planning the age-friendly community summit series, it was decided to hold eight discussions or “gatherings.”

Each gathering would focus on one aspect of daily living, as defined by the World Health Organization, bringing together older adults, seniors, caregivers, community stakeholders, agencies and organizations that work with seniors.

“It’s hard to believe it’s over,” was a common refrain expressed during the eighth and final gathering on Friday, and yet there was lightness in the air. A feeling of celebration, almost. When partners MPP Dave Levac and the Grand River Council on Aging came up with the idea that spawned a two-and-a-half-year journey, they had no idea what to expect.

From start to finish, the results have been outstanding.  

The core planning group included representatives from the offices of MP Phil McColeman and Levac, staff from the City of Brantford and the County of Brant, representatives from Six Nations and New Credit, the Grand River Council on Aging and several retirees. This dedicated group of people met every month for 30 meetings in total. Their commitment is outstanding.

Each gathering was carried out like a workshop. Grand River Council on Aging board president Lucy Marco provided leadership and guidance to the process.  

But her contribution went far beyond leading morning discussions. She chaired the monthly meetings. She led the eight gatherings using PowerPoint presentations that she created. She developed the participants’ packages, as well as those used by the facilitators. She wrote detailed interim reports after each gathering. And she has accepted the challenge to write the final report that will capture the insights and reflections from all eight gatherings.

Staff at Levac’s office was responsible for the co-ordination of the many details behind the scenes. As an example, putting together the individual files of information for participants and facilitators ensuring sufficient copies for everyone was another huge task. A minimum of 50 participant packages and eight facilitator packages were needed each time.

Confirming the logistics for the location of each gathering, confirming the number of registrants to the food donors, arranging for press conferences, producing media release and distributing the preliminary report are also responsibilities that fell to Carrie Sinkowski and Sherri Pate.

Seasons Bell Lane graciously supplied the coffee, tea and snacks for each gathering. This gift was enjoyed by more than 450 seniors and 60 facilitators over the two and half years of the summit series.  

The welcome extended to the participants by Six Nations for the third and sixth gatherings were phenomenal. Chief Ava Hill joined Levac, McColeman and Marco in extending warm wishes. The traditional welcome was offered by 12-year-old Adam Martin in his native language, which was followed by a translation provided by his dad, Jeff. Morning snacks and the luncheon astounded everyone. The native doughnuts, in particular, were a big hit. 

From time to time, other guests such as Brantford Mayor Chris Friel and former Minister Responsible for Seniors Mario Sergio dropped by. There is no question that the age-friendly community summit and the eight gatherings attracted notice.   

It is the participants that deserve special recognition. Some people attended gatherings by topic of choice. Some people attended one time and gave their input. Others attended all eight gatherings. Their contribution is priceless and also outstanding.

Where do we go from here? Some recommendations can be adapted quite easily. Increasing the size of fonts on business cards for improved legibility is one quick fix. Others will take time and money to accomplish. For instance it has long been recognized that the demand for long-term care beds far exceeds the supply and this need will continue to grow.

The Grand River Council on Aging works to promote the voice of seniors and their lived experience to encourage the development of age-friendly policies and procedures throughout the community. As the age-friendly community summit and the eight gatherings draw to a close, the GRCOA is already looking ahead.

There will be other workshops and focus groups and opportunities. The search has begun for age-friendly community neighbourhood champions and tentative plans call for two events focused on housing issues. 

Marco concluded each gathering with suggestions for what people can do on their own.

Practise respect. Become informed. Be a volunteer. Carry the age-friendly banner.

To everyone who participated in the summit, your contribution was outstanding. See you next time.