The Grand River Council on Aging has launched an age-friendly online information hub to help seniors and their families better use local services.
The hub, which can be found at grcoa.ca/, covers things such as: health; civic participation; communication and information; housing; outdoor spaces; social participation; and transportation.
For example, the transportation section includes details about Brant eRide in Brant County, Brantford Lift, Brantford Transit and the March of Dimes vehicle modification program.
Creation of the hub follows 20 community events held by the council on aging to introduce residents aged 55 and older and their families to local services for seniors. Evaluations conducted at the events found most participants did not know how or where to access local services.
“The biggest lesson learned through our research is that people don’t know what they don’t know until they have a need to know,” said Lucy Marco, council’s board president. “Then, they don’t know where to go.”
So, volunteers began collecting resources to improve the council’s website by adding the information hub aimed at people aged 55 and older, their families, friends and caregivers. The hub provides contact information on things such as community events, housing options, food security, volunteerism and fraud prevention and elder abuse awareness.
“Progress on the info hub was complicated by COVID-19 when many activities, programs and services were cancelled due to the stay-at-home order and social distancing guidelines, which resulted in social isolation for many of our seniors,” Marco said. “Social isolation can result in feelings of loneliness and depression which can lead to physical and mental health issues.”
She said many organizations rose to the challenge, providing virtual opportunities for seniors to socialize, enjoy hobbies and remain connected.
But Marco noted that knowing where to access such programs was an issue that the info hub seeks to address.
“The info hub allows seniors to remain engaged as they discover virtual activities, events, and services in this vast directory,” Marco said. “It enables people to easily obtain information from a single source to reduce the frustration of navigating a multitude of websites.
“We believe residents will feel empowered by the knowledge obtained, allowing them to make choices, to engage with others and hopefully reduce feelings of isolation.”
The council on aging is a registered charitable non-profit organization dedicating to encouraging an “age-friendly community” for all residents. Age-friendly communities optimize opportunities for health, participation and security to enhance the quality of life for all residents.