The Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council (ESCC) celebrated our 10th anniversary in 2015. In the ten years the ESCC has been operating we have worked with member agencies and stakeholders to enhance seniors programs/services and build on existing systems to connect community-based aging in place supports.
Recent work has focused on:
Seniors Home Supports Program: ESCC collaborated with seniors organizations and stakeholders to develop a city-wide six-district model to coordinate home supports referrals for Edmonton seniors. Seniors organizations that participate in the Seniors Home Supports Program recruit and screen service providers offering snow removal, yard help, housekeeping and minor home repair services and provide referrals to seniors requesting these services.
Enhanced outreach services: ESCC coordinated efforts to enhance outreach services to isolated and at-risk seniors. This included development of an Outreach Worker Toolkit which includes a manual, interview guide and resource list that can be used by outreach workers. Stronger relationships have also been forged through the collaboration between outreach workers and other senior serving organizations.
Assisted transportation: With support from ESCC, organizations that provide assisted transportation for seniors came together as LIFT Drive Happiness. The partner organizations engage in joint volunteer recruitment and training, coordinate communications, and developed consistent practices, common forms, an evaluation framework and data collection methods.
Age Friendly Edmonton
The ESCC-initiated Vision for an Age Friendly Edmonton Action Plan was a long time in the making by the senior sector along with many stakeholders. It is an ambitious plan that addresses many of the barriers that get in the way when seniors try to access services, programs and places. Age Friendly Edmonton working groups have accomplished a lot since funds became available in 2013. Examples of projects include:
- Streamlined access to information on seniors programs and services in Edmonton through the Seniors Information Phone Line
- The establishment of an innovation fund for community groups to undertake projects that support seniors.
- Needs assessment to gain an understanding of the experiences of Edmonton’s immigrant seniors in accessing programs and services and identify promising practices for program/service delivery (The Age of Wisdom: Giving Voice to Edmonton’s Immigrant Seniors and Identifying Their Needs).
- Coordination of healthy aging information sessions and phone chats.
- Caregiver Navigator Training for health professionals and people working with caregivers.
- Senior’s Transportation Information Hubs which provide information on transportation options for seniors including driving, public transit and alternative travel choices.
- Workshop and facilitators guide related to respect for seniors to reduce ageism.
- Input into municipal elections and census reflecting seniors’ needs.
- Home for Life™ Through advocacy, education, and technical leadership, Home for Life™ provides home-owners and builders with a framework for designing homes that are aesthetically ageless and will remain functional and accessible while the home-owner ages.
In addition to our role as a backbone organization in sector collaboration, ESCC:
- Provides members with opportunities to connect with colleagues, share information on common issues and develop relationships through conversation cafes, meetings and sector gatherings.
- Offers members opportunities to learn about issues that impact their organizations and the seniors they serve.
- Serves as a communications hub for the Edmonton seniors sector – connecting member organizations, stakeholders and seniors to useful, timely and relevant information.
- Produces the Recreation and Wellness Directory for Older Adults which outlines arts, fitness, technology, health and recreational activities for adults 55+ in Edmonton.
- Works diligently to highlight matters of importance to the seniors sector, represent the sector when approached by government and stakeholders and serve as effective liaisons on sector issues.
The Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council initiated discussions with executive directors and board representatives from senior-serving organizations in 2008 on how to address identified gaps in services and prepare to meet increasing demand for them due to the pending demographic influx of post-war baby boom seniors.
Early on in the discussions, it was decided to use the framework of the World Health Organization’s Global Age-Friendly Cities Guide as a basis for developing a made-in-Edmonton plan. When the WHO announced that it wished to establish a Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities, the City of Edmonton submitted a lot of ESCC's work as part of an application to become a member.
The municipality issued Edmonton’s Seniors Declaration to signify its intention to focus on the opportunities aging provides, rather than on the perception that an aging population is a drain on society’s resources. Edmonton Seniors: A Portrait was published jointly by ESCC and the City of Edmonton as a reflection of seniors’ concerns and interests identified in reports and surveys.
The City of Edmonton was accepted as a member of the WHO’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities in December of 2010 and, following ESCC meetings with stakeholders and seniors, and numerous revisions, a Vision for an Age-Friendly Edmonton Action Plan was published and distributed in Spring 2011.
The plan identifies goals and actions in nine strategic areas: community support services; health services; communication and information; social and recreational participation; transportation; respect and social inclusion; civic participation, volunteerism and employment; housing; and outdoor spaces and buildings.
Each action is accompanied by identification of a lead partner. Lead partners invite and encourage other organizations to get involved in achieving goals, facilitate and guide the process toward that end, and determine what, if any, additional resources are required to implement actions.
City council’s approval of the plan in 2012 energized ESCC member organizations, plan partners and stakeholders. We believe in the action plan and the promise it provides to seniors that improvements will be made to add to their quality of life.
ESCC took the lead in bringing stakeholders together to plan for improvements to services by holding events such as roundtable discussions, workshops and forums.
The Council established itself as the communication hub for the senior sector by circulating weekly electronic bulletins, establishing its website and databases, publishing a Physical Activity and Recreation Directory for Older Adults, facilitating publication of a Seniors Scene monthly page in the Edmonton Examiner, and issuing other reports and publications.
The ESCC facilitated regular senior sector meetings of board representatives and executive directors, established an Interagency Programmers Committee for the sharing of information in a supportive environment, initiated regular meetings of Interagency Outreach Workers, provided support for an Edmonton Voluntary Drivers Network and facilitated regular meetings of a Yard Help/Snow Shovelling Network.
The Council initiated joint projects such as the production of a promotional DVD for seniors centres and produced other resources, such as fact sheets, cultural cue documents and policy templates, to assist agencies.
The ESCC arranged for educational sessions for workers, such as cultural sensitivity training, and became one of the lead organizations for the Creative Age Festival, first held in 2008 during Seniors' Week.
On October 14, 2005 the government officially recognized ESCC as a society.
The establishment of the Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council (ESCC) was the major recommendation from the Task Force on Community Services for Seniors’ report Blueprint for Action published in January 2004.
During a previous 10-month consultation process, senior-serving organizations, seniors, and funders recognized the need for a mechanism to support shared planning, coordination and collaboration among service providers for seniors. For most of 2004, members of a newly constituted Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council Transition Team worked to establish the framework for the Council.
ESCC builds on the work of the Edmonton Seniors Community Network formed in 2000 to encourage information sharing and discussion on issues of common concern. The Council benefits organizations that primarily serve seniors, as well as groups and organizations that serve seniors as part of a larger mandate.
The first ESCC Board of Directors, comprising representatives of 11 regular members and four associate members, was elected in November 2004. Ex-officio board members included representatives from the City of Edmonton , the United Way of the Alberta Capital Region, and Capital Health Authority (Alberta Health Services).