Date: May 2, 2013
- Sharon King, Principal, Starfield Consulting Ltd.
- Mimi Toomey, MA, Director of the Office of Policy, Analysis and Development at the Administration for Community Living (ACL), US Department of Health and Human Services
With the aging of the population in many countries, where are the best ideas going to come from to help older people remain in their communities, and among the friends and families — and other seniors — they know best? How can we shift mindsets and models from ones that include endless and expensive health care interventions to a vision that factors in the role that supportive people and support services can play further upstream — to reduce isolation and loneliness, to ensure good nutrition and management of chronic health issues, to prevent avoidable hospitalizations?
This WIHI takes a stab at some answers. In South Georgian Bay, a community along the Severn River in Ontario, six organizations have come together to create a web of resources called Home for Life, focused on the growing population that’s over 65. Anchored by volunteers, a 211 system to initiate and engage services, and a “back to the village” vision that also includes empowering older individuals with computers and new technologies, Home for Life isn’t just another in a long string of well- intentioned social service initiatives. WIHI guest Sharon King, one of its creators, believes Home for Life should be studied, measured, and monitored for its effectiveness. She’s hopeful they’re on to something in Canada that can be adapted elsewhere.
How does this look to Mimi Toomey from her perch at the US government’s Administration for Community Living? With over 25 years of experience developing policies to support aging populations, is this the kind of “break the mold,” more cost-effective experimentation that communities in the US need to tap into, too? Do we have similar examples popping up that we need to learn more about? Probably so. If we’re going to get out from under headlines and reports that focus exclusively on aging as unaffordable for society most of all, we need fresh ideas and compassionate innovation.