With the pandemic’s impact on the economy, the need for coordination of services for Edmonton’s older adults (the demographic most adversely affected by COVID-19) has been demonstrated.
The shock wave from the pandemic poses new challenges for community-based senior serving organizations and highlights ongoing challenges. Many conversations have taken place around collective action to navigate the challenges.
The problems we believe require collective action include:
- Inclusion and social connectedness are key factors in health outcomes and research shows there are thousands of older adults in Edmonton who are experiencing or are at-risk of social isolation (social inclusion is a preventative measure that can ease the strain on our health care system).
- At least 80 % of health outcomes are determined by non-medical factors, yet the majority of Alberta’s health care spending goes toward medically-based care (there is a need to shift investment to address non-medical supports for older adults who wish to age in community in their homes).
- We do not currently have a systematic approach to addressing the social supports (non-medical needs) for older adults living in community (availability of community supports prevents potentially traumatic displacement of older adults and can reduce the need for more costly and intensive interventions down the road).
- Without a systematic approach to addressing these problems, we fragment our efforts and we get pushed into the competitive mode for precious resources to enable the provision of social supports to older adults requiring assistance (alignment and coordination of efforts, a common agenda, a framework to enable collective action and common goals are needed to address these system challenges).
Among Edmonton’s community-based seniors serving organizations, discussions have centred around developing a framework to support the coordination of services for Edmonton’s older adults. This would enable the creation of collective agenda, a common frame of action and work to address common goals. Now, the discussions are turning into action.
Over the next three to five years, the collective work of stakeholders will result in the creation of a community-led, citywide network that forms the critical components of a framework.
The City of Edmonton has tasked the Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council (ESCC) to provide leadership and perform the backbone role for this work. The Backbone Organization is one of six main components envisioned for the framework:
- Network Gatherings
- Reference Group
- Collective Leadership Group
- Funders Table
- Working Groups/Action Teams
- Backbone Organization (ESCC has been tasked to act in this role)
Specific roles and responsibilities of each component will be clarified in the work moving forward. A draft roadmap relays the timeline associated with the work, the desired results, the benchmarks/ milestones and indicators that will mark progress.
One of the first significant milestones in this work is the formation of an Interim Leadership Group. This group will be responsible for making decisions that are necessary to ensure the framework development continues to move forward.
ESCC is beginning one-on-one conversations with stakeholders to provide more information on the path forward, including the steps required to reach the milestone of the Interim Leadership Group. ESCC member organizations will be contacted individually and large cross-sector initiatives including the Stewardship Round Table (SRT) and Age Friendly Edmonton (AFE) will be looped into the work regularly. There will be opportunities to lead, advise, support, and participate to the degree each stakeholder wishes to.
While the various steps toward developing a framework are happening, ESCC is also:
- Proceeding with work related to its current mandate
- Continuing to support cross-sector collaborative initiatives such as Age Friendly Edmonton and the Stewardship Round Table.
This work is represented by the following graphic:
Right now, the three lanes of work can be viewed as separate lanes of activity. However, as work progresses on the framework, it is anticipated the lanes will intersect and, eventually, weave into a single pathway.
Ultimately this alignment will support a coordinated model that leads to increased collaboration and trusting relationships between organizations, an enhanced learning and adapting culture, as well as stable and sustainable funding for priority services.
ESCC has a long history of collaborations within Edmonton's network of organizations serving older adults.
Serving as the backbone for the framework to support coordination of services for Edmonton's older adults is a natural extension of our work to date. For more on ESCC’s role and contributions over the years, view ESCC's collaborative Journey.
- 1 page journey map (11"x17", tabloid size)
- 2 page journey map (8.5"x11", letter size)
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Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council
Stewardship members commit to contributing their skills, wisdom and perspectives to advance the work of the community-based seniors serving sector.
With a growing number of Albertans living longer, the need for community-based supports is greater than ever. Collective action is essential to meeting this need.