Joining CUI host Mary W. Rowe for our ongoing series of candid conversations – How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting ageing populations? – are Meghan Winters, Simon Fraser University; Rob Miyashiro, Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization (LSCO); Brenda Vrkljan, McMaster University; Laura Tamblyn-Watts, CanAge; and Vanessa Campisi, City of Toronto.
How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting ageing populations?
A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation
1. COVID-19 is having specific effects on older adults.
Older adults have felt the effects of COVID-19 in profound ways. Access – to clear information, to assistance, to technology, to food and medication – has been a challenge for many. Moreover, the very new effects of social isolation are becoming more apparent. As cities move forward with reopening plans, many seniors are still wary of how to safely inhabit public spaces.
2. We must make our communities more age-friendly going forward
As Laura Tamblyn-Watts explained, most seniors – over 90% – will never live in a long-term care facility. Building resilient cities to allow seniors to age in place is therefore essential. This requires considering how to make our public spaces – streets, walkways, and parks – safe for people across all ages.
3. When rebuilding, we must focus on the most vulnerable
Behind closed doors, there are many seniors that are suffering. Some are still dying daily in care facilities in horrific conditions – indeed, it took the Canadian Armed Forces to bring this systemic issue to light in Ontario in May 2020. Seniors are experiencing housing instability, homelessness, and mental health challenges. Racialized seniors, isolated seniors, and seniors with disabilities face incredible inequity. Policy must focus on addressing the inequities in our systems and prioritize the most marginalized.
4. We know the solutions for fixing our broken healthcare system
Our healthcare system was designed in a time with different care needs, and as such, it is necessary that we find ways to adapt to the future. Solutions have been proposed for many years, and we now need to implement them. Laura Tamblyn-Watts offered four major areas of reform: staffing, infrastructure, adequacy of care/interdisciplinary care, and model of care.
5. Collaboration is essential for supporting seniors
The work does not stop with healthcare workers. Creating the best conditions for Canada’s seniors demands action across different orders of government and governmental agencies, community organizations, researchers, and advocates. We need to appreciate our interdependencies. Support for seniors is needed in all arenas, and must be targeted at all levels. Some community organizations have begun this process, including faith-based organizations, libraries, community centres, telecommunications companies, neighborhood groups, and more.
CanAge – Canada’s National Seniors Advocacy Organization
Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to email@example.com with “transcription” in the subject line.
Mary Rowe [00:00:22] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban and Urban Institute.
But let’s start, if we could, with SFU let’s hear from you, Meghan, about what your perspective is. I think it would be helpful if you started by telling people what you do, what your job is and what your focus is, and then give us your perspective. Okay. Thanks for coming to City Talk.
Meghan Winters [00:04:50] Thanks for the invitation. My name’s Meghan Winters. I’m an associate professor in the faculty of health sciences at SFU. I lead the cities, health, and Active Transportation Research Lab. So we study how community design affects how people get around and connect with each other. You know, in the times as this COVID pandemic unfolds. I think that what we’ve seen in the realm that I work in is a newfound importance of outdoor public spaces. And this is really important for older adults. So I’m in B.C., we’ve launched into this sort of phase three where people are coming out, they are out in their communities and we’re seeing older adult populations also coming out into those outdoor spaces, some of them are really nervous. That’s what we see on the streets. Some of them are really keen for social opportunities. They may have been in their houses by themselves. And now they’re really interested in being out in the outdoor spaces. They we’ve also seen that the community centers, places they may have relied on for connecting with people who may not be open or the kinds of coffee shops and meeting people for coffee. So they are now gathering, maybe figuring out how to meet up with their friends in public spaces and parks, going for socially distance walks. But they’re nervous about being close to other people. So just a couple of quick things that I think are to continue to be very important as we’re going forward here, things about streets allocations and making sure that we have enough space for people walking and cycling so that the walkers feel safe, cyclists feel safe, and everybody has enough space to spread out. And then a real challenge that people of all ages of us have been impacted by, but especially older adults, is a lack of bathrooms. So as COVID as happened, we don’t have as many public facilities open. And the number of times I’ve been looking for a bathroom or I’ve been asked if I know where there’s a bathroom that’s open, is really limiting our ability to spend time in those public spaces for people of all ages. Thank you.
Mary Rowe [00:06:39] Thanks, Meghan. I mean, it’s interesting. You know, I was having a conversation earlier this morning with one of the city managers in the country and talking about how municipal service workers, employees of cities had to be redeployed through COVID and that one of the biggest preoccupations… So you had people coming from… One of our colleagues, Lisa, who helped put the session together. Her husband is a planner for the city of Toronto. He got redeployed from the planning department over to do emergency services. And one of the priorities that municipal staff had to figure out was where are outdoor bathrooms. And that was true for parks and all sorts of things. And is again, this preexisted COVID. But now you’re in a much more critical place where we realize we haven’t figured that out. It’s a picture of urban, piece of urbanism, and we’ve not figured it out properly. OK, let’s go to Rob. Rob is saving us from being a wanel. We had a wanel last week and since there’ve been decades and decades of manels, we think the odd wanel’s okay. Rob is saving us from being a wanel and being… He’s coming to us from Lethbridge. Rob wears two things. You just told us on the call he’s also a city councilor. But I should just say that, as I mentioned, my colleague Lisa she was putting this program together and very, very appreciative of the public health agency of Canada’s and Pan Canadian Age Friendly Communities Reference Group. That’s a hell of an acronym, whatever that is. But at that group of which you were a member, Rob, I think that’s how we got to you. So appreciate that there are different forms of learning networks that we need to figure all this out to, Rob. Talk to us from Lethbridge.
Rob Miyashiro [00:08:09] Hi Mary and welcome to the rest of our panelists and all our participants today. So I’m really excited to be here. I don’t consider myself an expert. I consider myself really fortunate that I’m I’m engaged with a whole bunch of smart people around the country and in the province. So I get to learn from all of you and I learn from my colleagues all over. So I wouldn’t say I’m an expert, but I’m a bit of a sponge for information. So let me get that clear. A second disclaimer is, this is my COVID hair. It’s not the same as my headshot. That was in the poster. Haven’t had my hair cut since the end of February. So that’s what I had. This is really me. So just let you know that I’m I’m the executive director of the Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization, which is a pretty good sized, multi-sector, multiservice seniors’ organization in Lethbridge. We we do everything from social services to activities to Meals on Wheels. And we have large 56000 square foot facility where we do all this. And I’m I’m also actually a City Councilor in Lethbridge. So I have a unique perspective on what the municipality needs to do during these kind of trying times, as well as how our senior sector pulls together. So two things. Because you’re going to we’ll talk about the issues and I can talk about this later. What I want to talk about later more also is the huge collaborative effort that I’ve been a part of in the city of Lethbridge and region and the province of Alberta. Now we’ve pulled together as service providers and government to to to build a better sector for serving people. So that’s pretty exciting that I’d like to talk about. I’ll echo a lot of things that Meghan said as well about sort of about how seniors are feeling isolated and how and I’ll a bit later about some things that we’ve done to try to engage them.
Mary Rowe [00:09:58] Thanks. That’s well done. Followed instructions. OK. Let’s let’s go to the other side. Let’s go to Laura, who actually I think is temporarily decamped in Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia. But you’ve got your fan club because there’s somebody else from Sandy Cove is just checked in. Laura, talk to us about your perspective because you’ve been active. And I appreciate how you’re all coming from different angles on this, which is great. It’s very important – academic and people working for municipal governments and people working for agencies and people working in advocacy. So, Laura, talk to us about you and what you’ve been observing.
Laura Tamblyn-Watts [00:10:31] So my name is Laura Tamblyn-Watts. I’m the CEO of CanAge, which is Canada’s National Seniors Advocacy Organization. So we are a Pan Canadian organization and we have been very busy in the time of CanAge in our growth period with regards to the Covid 19. I want to focus a little bit on where informal boundaries inhibit connection. And we talked a little bit about how we’re thinking about these things in terms of the interstitial process. I want to talk about where those things break down and how the walls, particularly walls of long term care, although I’d like to spend a little bit time talking about we call it different things – retirement homes or assisted living or supportive housing, depending on where you are across this country. Let’s talk a little bit about that as well. And so where we think about people living and where they get service delivery and how those things have given a completely different experience in the time of COVID19, I’ve been pan-Canadian myself during this time. I spent the first few months in Whistler, B.C., so I was part of that the Bonnie Henry show when we were in B.C. then I spent about a month in Toronto and had the experience of being there. And then I’ve decamped to Nova Scotia. What’s been interesting about that is there are similarities and differences that I really feel very concretely in, depending where you are. But I just also wanted to echo my colleagues. There’s a sense of both fear, trepidation, but there’s also a sense of otherness that I want to talk a bit about today, particularly for older people who’ve been living in congregate care settings.
[Brief conversation addressing technical difficulties removed]
Mary Rowe [00:13:15] Go ahead, Brenda.
Brenda Vrkljan [00:13:22] Thanks. So, Brenda Vrkljan. I’m a professor here at McMaster University. I’m an occupational therapist by background, so trained as a health care professional. And then a rehabilitation scientist. And a I also am a volunteer in our community on a long term care board or long term care facility that also services our older adults in the community, among other vulnerable populations. So as an occupational therapist, I will say, well, we use the term occupation. I heard you use it, Mary, in terms of the work of your colleague. But when I’m talking about occupation, I’m talking about all the things that occupy people’s time. And so when we think about those things, a good example was having to go to the bathroom is one example. And I really appreciated Meghan thinking through kind of the task analysis, a little bit of the things we do every day and how with changes, sometimes due to health, sometimes due to other circumstances, our ability to do the things that occupy our time can be impacted. So our profession is really focused on supporting people, encouraging people of all abilities, of all ages, as you can imagine. So a very diverse profession in terms of, you know, working and obviously working with working with other team members as well, not just in health, but also urban planners to think about how do we design communities, our communities for these person-environment transactions that occur. Right. Because that’s really what we want to do. And I’m executive member of the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging, which is MIRA, that lovely acronym. You may hear me just refer to it as lovingly as MIRA. But our focus is on optimal aging and so in and also reimagining. And I saw that in the lead in as well to this panel. So thinking about how do we support people in the in the community. And there is an opportunity here to reimagine. Right. How we function and optimize function in the community. We’ve had to do major pivots here at the university. I’m sure Meghan is the same with her group that, you know, that lovely word pivot that we’re hearing so often. But we had a focus as well on on mobility. We’re about to launch a cohort study, which means like a very big study to track people in their community, older people, to figure out those subtle changes in mobility. And I know last week you were talking about transportation as an example. But we know transportation is active transportation. So it’s sort of Meghan’s point all the way through to wheeled mobility as well. And our disabled or people with disabilities, their ability to get around the community and access it in all kinds of different ways. So all of that to say, you know, this notion of optimizing aging is an important one. And we know that our population, our aging population, particularly in particular, is heterogeneic here. I never know how to say this, but very different from each other. When we say aging, we really have to think about the diversity. And again, that marginalized population. So to your point about, you know, the black Indigenous people of color who may have already had some struggles in terms of in terms of, you know, the time before COVID, as we know. So we just need to think about that threshold. Right? in terms of helping people maintain, enhance and and partnering with people to help develop the best solution. That’s very complicated. People are adaptable. I think it’s amazing. I want to thank all our health care workers who are on the line, the people servicing older people in the home and in the community. I think that’s another really important aspect. Caregivers, we think of them as formal and informal. And I know Laura probably has some thoughts about that as well, because we need to think about not just the person, the older person, but that network around that person and the effect of that. So all that to say, Mary, I’m really looking forward to the conversation with these panelists. I think your group’s done a great job of pulling people together with different but complementary backgrounds.
Mary Rowe [00:17:27] Thanks. Thank you. Thank you for saying that. And we’re glad. You know what’s interesting is that there are so many informed people in Canada who can share their understanding and their perspective. I’m hoping that we will find Vanessa, that we will get her back on. In the meantime, I’m just watching the tech team here to see if they’re going to try to get her back. And she was on briefly and dropped off. So let’s… The four of you can go. Yes. Here’s a here’s a question I thought we could start with. And I want us to see if we can differentiate between.
Vanessa Campisi [00:17:55] I am here, Mary. But I’ve just turned my video off.
Mary Rowe [00:17:58] OK. Well, then, do you want to speak without your video? Go for it. Vanessa?
Vanessa Campisi [00:18:06] Yes. I’ve just turned the video off to save on bandwidth a bit.
Mary Rowe [00:18:10] OK. Give us your perspective.
Vanessa Campisi [00:18:12] So thanks, everyone, and sorry about the technical difficulty. I work in the senior services and long term care division at the city of Toronto. I just joined shortly before COVID escalated in mid-March. So it’s been quite a few months. Our division is a mix of direct service delivery. So we run long term care homes and supportive housing sites, adult day programs, community programs for seniors. And then there’s a broader coordination and facilitation role with the broader senior sector. So that’s the role I’m in. And I work very closely with many agencies and organizations who are supporting vulnerable seniors on the ground everyday, working very closely with them to learn from them, support them throughout this pandemic and hear what what the issues are that they’re seeing every day. And obviously, there’s a lot. And as you said, Mary, many existed before COVID and this has really exacerbated them, especially for more vulnerable seniors, those with limited social network, isolated health mobility issues and intersecting vulnerabilities like black seniors, Indigenous seniors, racialized, newly integrated, experiencing homelessness. There are so many vulnerabilities. It’s hard to narrow down the list of issues we’ve been hearing and seeing every day, because sometimes even the small issues like accessing pet food can have a very real quality of life impacts for seniors. But some of the major ones that we’re repeatedly hearing, you know, no matter who you are, I’d say – access. And by that I mean access to information and clear understanding of what’s available from federal, provincial, us at the city, the huge community sector. How do they get the help they need? Access to technology with so much moving virtually, and it just becoming such a need in COVID. And then from the very early days, access to food, medications and essentials. And then another big one is, is the social isolation piece and the impacts on mental health and loneliness. And as another panelist was saying, the anxiety and fear I think Meghan was talking about that, that’s starting to come out. You know, now that things may be relaxing and reopening, how to sort of safely reemerge. There’s a lot of inequities in how what neighborhoods and what groups have been impacted. And then, yeah, as I mentioned, I think now a big issue emerging is how to stay safe. With with with public health guidance changing a little bit. But how to get the PPE and the masks, hand sanitizer, that you need to be out and about. How to safely get to testing centers or how can we get more mobile testing, all those kind of things? What that’s going to look like now.
Mary Rowe [00:21:18] Thanks, Vanessa. The tech folk’s going to talk to you about your headset, because we’re getting a little buzzing kind of feedback thing and see if we can clean that up. So they’ll be chatting back and forth. Thanks for your comments. Can we talk about congregate settings, guys, gals, guy and gal? Because that’s obviously something that’s in the news. Is that there’s been a disproportionate death in incidents of of transmission and then higher number of deaths in congregate settings. And I’m sure that that’s going to lead to all sorts of people suggesting that we now need to completely dismantle that system and that I have a personal bias in this in that my mother went into long term care facility… she’s long dead. But for the last five years of her life. And that was I think she would have said it was the best five years of her life. So I know lots of people have a very negative stigma about this. And I’m curious what you folks see in terms of – I know there’s a gazillion challenges associated with personal support workers working part time and spreading the virus. But what do you think? What is the the trajectory that you’re imagining in terms of people that have high needs for that kind of support? I’m seeing Laura nod, do you want to give first, Laura? And then we’ll hear some other folks and others?
Laura Tamblyn-Watts [00:22:40] Absolutely. So first, it’s important to say that 92 percent of all Canadians, no matter, will never live in congregate care setting. Ninety two percent in some jurisdictions like Ontario, it’s 95 percent. So we’re talking about a very small cohort. Of that cohort, right now, across the country, and this is a bit of a number… it’s a little bit different depending on where you are. But about 20 percent of the people who do live in the congregate care settings could go home if they had the adequate supports that they needed. Right? So part of what we need to be thinking about is also what are we trying to achieve and what did we design the systems for? I want to take it back just a little bit because I am a lawyer by training. I do teach at U of T, so I’ll put my academic hat on for just a very short period of time. When we designed the Canada Health Act in 1984. That’s the piece that said, how are we going to do health care in Canada? There’s more to it than that. But that’s kind of the big point. That lets you go to a hospital, whether you’re in Lethbridge or in Halifax, that lets you get treatment. We didn’t include long term care in 1984. And in my view, it’s not that we meant not to do it. It’s just that the average age of death was about 76.4 years in 1984. And we mostly got long term care as we think about it in hospital or extended hospital settings or in family settings. And so now we have another sort of 10 years ish on top of that, if we’re looking how our longevity is spending. So we didn’t design the system in a way that meant to address where we are now. And we’ve known that for some time. What do we need to do to fix it? So we think there’s about five major things. They’re not easy, but they’re all very doable. You just have to actually do them. And the other piece I just want to share to you is – we’ve known how to fix this for a really long time. We just haven’t really fixed it, you know, because you’re always looking for priorities and money. So there’s staffing fixes, we talked about that. I’m happy to go into what the staffing fixes are. There’s infrastructure fixes. There is, kind of, the adequacy of care. And by that, what I mean is an interdisciplinary approach to integrated care, as opposed to downloading the professionalization of care to personal support workers. So we need to change how the interprovincial and interdisciplinary care is provided. So staffing infrastructure, the mix of care, we need to change the model of care. And if you don’t change any other thing, let’s change that one, because everything else kind of flows out from it. So we’re focusing on what we call it, emotion focused or transformative model of care. And that leads to making sure that we also get better infection control because we actually have to talk about that. But you can’t actually get proper infection control with board rooms of four people separated by a curtain with shared bathing facilities of upwards of 20 to 25 people. You just can’t do it. So we know the pathway and we know how it can be done. The piece I’ll just add to it before I kind of turn it over is, we often do this (points to either side) when it comes to division of powers. Again, I’m putting my lawyer hat on for just a second. So it’s true that the provision of care services is provincial and we have kind of public health, which is federal. And then we have transfers of money that go to support those things. But we have the ability and have certainly done before, to have desegregated – they called them directed health care funds – go to the provinces, for particular things. We’ve seen that’s what hip health and macular degeneration and glaucoma and HPV vaccines and so other things. So we know that there is a system if we want to transfer and not get it lost to general treasuries, which has happened before in other areas, home care being one of those. And we can look to the Australian model to have an arm’s length national regulator and talk about national standards and licensing and regulation. So it’s not that our system is so problematic from a policy point of view or a governmental point of view, that we can’t do a inter governmental fix to this. We can. So really happy to talk about those things and to hear from other panelists what your thoughts are.
Mary Rowe [00:27:02] I mean, just so you know, this (points to either side) whatever you just did, this, this, this could be a theme of every city talk I do, because every, every piece of urban life – and one of the challenges we have is that there are competing jurisdictions and the funding streams aren’t direct. And it’s very difficult for residents, people that live in cities to know who to hold accountable when there is a screw up. And I think that, as you’re suggesting, this is to me, a risk coming out of this, is that you’re telling me that we’ve known for 30 years that we should be doing this differently. People in the chat are volunteering, that the projections of seniors is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. We’re going to more and more people of advanced age who are going to live on. So, Meghan, what is what’s your perspective as a as a as an epidemic, researching these things, about the future of congregate living? And what do we need to do to actually address this rather than – I don’t I don’t want us to do a city talk 20 years from now and you’re going to say we knew 20 years ago.
Meghan Winters [00:28:00] Well, what I heard Laura say is that most older adults are living in their homes. And I work with the active aging research team here in Vancouver with and with older adults across the country, is that they want to stay in their homes or in their communities. And so it’s about building communities that are a good place to grow old, that have the supports that Brenda talked about that enable them access to technology or access to services and technology. So they want to stay in their homes and we’re gonna need that as we see this growing older adult population. Many are healthy individuals. They’re they’re healthy and they’ve got years of health ahead of them. So it’s about building communities that enable them to stay in their homes. Again, it comes down to common themes that we have heard before this, but are exacerbated during COVID. So things about designing – urban design. That’s the benches. That’s the bathrooms. Places to stop. Places to stay. The COVID thing that has been exacerbated in terms of creating safe spaces so they can be out in their communities. You know, we’ve heard a lot in our research. So I want to make clear that people who are older, they walk, they cycle, the e-bikes are out there. It’s hard to purchase a bike these days because the supply is down and because of the huge demands for one. So that’s enabling physical activity. It’s enabling healthy lifestyles. But we need places for them to move.
Mary Rowe [00:29:22] Can I ask you can I ask a question about when you’re suggesting this this notion of sharing streets? So, you know, now we’ve got patios on streets and now we’ve got bike lanes on streets and now we’re going to see e-bikes on streets and streets being the largest chunk of public space in any city is the street. Have you started to navigate that? If you’re saying more and more people are going to be older – is there a conflict there with avid cyclists? How do you reconcile? Some of them are on the chat, so I’m going to hear from them. But tell me how you’re reconciling that.
Meghan Winters [00:29:55] So a third of our public spaces are our streets. That’s a third of the land space we could be using. I think that what we’ve all seen as driving declined rapidly was that streets, cities could look different and could feel different. So do we have that extra space? The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has put out guidelines for street rebalancing. So to help municipalities move quickly, and I want to commend municipalities across the country that have managed to reallocate road space. So is there a conflict there? Well, if you’re out on the streets watching right now in some of the areas of Vancouver, for sure. There are huge numbers of older adults out on Bicycle’s right now. So I want to just emphasize that in our work before this that older adults do use their bikes and the e-bike trend is off the hook. So that’s something that really facilitates people using these across different age groups and to go further and make more trips. So we’re seeing a surge in that kind of pricing. Is there a conflicts, Mary? Well, it’s all about making sure that there’s adequate space for people. So certainly what we’ve heard through research for years and years now, you know, is that, while some do cycle, people who are walking on the sidewalk sometimes don’t hear cyclists going by them. So it’s really important that the cycles aren’t on the sidewalk. And to keep them off the sidewalk, you need space for them to be comfortable and safe riding on the streets. So when we think about reallocating streets so that there’s space for the cars or that there’s space for the bicyclists, so that there’s space where people feel safe on the sidewalks as well with children, whether they’re older adults or they’re riding bikes, and the e-bikes move fast. They move fast and they’re quiet. But we need to make sure the cities are really actively taking charge of that. What I want to see is that these temporary changes that are happening in cities. What are we thinking about moving those into permanent solution? So what can we learn about the pilots and fast reactions that city and municipal staff have had to reallocate that road space? Will it become permanent in certain communities, especially around places where maybe older adults are needing to be moving around?
Mary Rowe [00:31:53] Is anybody is anybody seeing already or are you going to hear little wish list together of things that you want to stick? Brenda, are you are are you tracking that to say this is a good this is a good improvization? We should formalize that. Anything like that?
Brenda Vrkljan [00:32:05] You’re right. I think the notion, one thing I’ve seen is people like walking more. I think so. Even this notion of walking neighborhoods, you read and hear lots more about the notion of, you know, not necessarily going into the trails, although people do in beautiful Hamilton, that there are these lovely walking trails. But this notion of people walking in neighborhoods and getting to know their neighbor during COVID. And so together with my parents who also live in the same town as I do, just so happens they moved here, I feel quite fortunate. But it’s had implication in terms of caregiving, I think around. So my social network, because they live here, is my social life looks much different because of my caregiving with my parents. And having that, I’ll say responsibility, in the loveliest way possible. But I know it’s it’s a win win situation. I happen to like my parents. That’s not always the case with everybody, Mary. But. But we do get along to a point. And so this idea of us having our social circle quite tight, we’re very, very mindful of my my parents. I mean, Meghan, I like the idea of people being on bikes. I know that’s a West Coast philosophy. I do not as a caregiver, like the idea of my dad going out on a bike on a trail. He has mobility and musculoskeletal issues, two knee replacements, those kinds of things. So his activity, Mary, is through Zoom. Him and my mum are doing an exercise class together in the basement. That’s what I’ll call it. So they’re leveraging each other. There’s so many good things that have happened, honestly, and that’s what I want to say about people’s adaptability. But how do we leverage and hear those stories. I think there’s lots of stigma and stereotypes about aging. Same with the tech side. I see lots of people mentioning tech as a potential solution. I think we have lots of seniors that are very tech savvy as well. And that could be leveraged. We’ve had I’ve had meetings through Zoom with older adults. They know how to use the cell phone, Uber, those kinds of things. But we just, again, the notion of choice, the notion of, you know, making sure they have the right information, that’s one thing I’m very concerned about is the quality of evidence. So McMaster actually created the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal. So if you just Google those words and maybe somebody can write it in the chat – McMaster Optimal Aging Portal, and they have pivoted again to include a COVID style theme, but it gives good evidence right, around, you know, doing exercises online, seeking mental health, you know, options because that is a huge implications is, you know, we lose our our social ability, our social network and our impact on mood.
Mary Rowe [00:34:49] So can we can we talk about that for a second? Because I think that’s probably what I’m reflecting in terms of my own mother. You know, she had lived a very isolated life as a as a mobility challenge senior, you know, with a dynamic in her own life with her husband that wasn’t a very constructive one. And so when she went into – she basically went into a community. And and so I’m interested about the stigma that may now continue to be reinforced.
Brenda Vrkljan [00:35:17] I think, Mary, this notion of like I had lots of people when I was working as an occupational therapist, I want to go home and actually home is not the best place for them. They were they were they were, you know, on their own and alone. And that does it. So when they are, you know, with others and I think the congregate setting of, you know, can be a better place for people. I don’t think some of the homes are set up, necessarily. Right? Obvious in the proper way. But, so going home and being at home by yourself is not always optimal. How do we develop and design, to Laura’s point, these these congregate settings? So interdependence, I think, is actually a better word. That’s what we are as humans. We do rely on each other, we don’t often just do everything on our own. And that’s the way cities function, too. Right? Is interdependence. And I’m sure Rob has some comments from his seniors groups about it.
Rob Miyashiro [00:36:08] Thank you very much. So I can run through this quickly, cause I can address a lot of things that you just said. So another part of my role is I’m on the board of directors of the Lethbridge, sorry, The Green Acres Foundation, which did manage housing body that provides residences for seniors in three different communities with twelve different facilities across southwestern Alberta. We’re lucky we’ve had one case. So the point about long term care and senior facilities is being this festering pool of disease is not always correct. And it depends on the response. We’ve had a lucky response. We’re only hitting our first wave in Lethbridge now. And so we’ve we’ve tripled the number of cases over the last two weeks, which still isn’t lots, but the rate is alarming compared to all of the experience. But the ones that we’re seeing in seniors residences are from visitation outside of the center. One we think it was a staff person that brought in – It’s not one of the Greenacres facilities, but a different one. What happened in Calgary, in Edmonton, especially Calgary, was because of the workers going working between different centers.
Mary Rowe [00:37:18] Rob, have you done any tracking – I’m just seeing a question from Abby Slater in the chat – have you done any tracking or is anybody else in terms of a difference in outcome between a privately owned LTC or retirement facility and a publicly owned? To see whether it’s substantively different?
Rob Miyashiro [00:37:33] Right so Lethbridge, particularly, we’ve had, there’s a couple of private operators that have had no outbreak, they’ve had, because it seemed like the middle of March, everybody locked down quickly. And to much the chagrin of family members, it was like no – essential visitors only. They had all their contagion protocols in place. And this was not just Green Acres Foundation. This was the large public extended care. And the other of the other facilities. So we were lucky that way. The other thing I want addressed really quickly is that I’m on a committee called the Community Design Committee and also the Age Friendly Committee of Lethbridge. And we’re looking at things like complete streets so Meghan’s talking about bikes and making space for people. The complete streets concept is enough room for cyclists, pedestrians and cars. You look at Main Street Project in Ottawa, which is pretty cool because the bikes have the outside third of the sidewalk. The pedestrians have the inside two thirds of the sidewalk. And then the bikes were the ones that rode closer to the traffic. The auto traffic, then the pedestrians. So that was all all done in renovating the sidewalk system just in this one street as a project. So we could do it and we could do those kinds of things effectively. The other thing about addressing people living, Brenda was talking about people going home to nothing or being at home isolated. We’re working on a couple of projects in Lethbridge right now, wheree we’re we’re doing postcard drops and people are doing neighborhood checks. And I’m even in my own organization, we did 1500 phone calls, over about a month and a bit to make sure all our members were OK to do all those checks. We had our Meals on Wheels volunteers checking with with all our recipients. We have a program that we’re checking on people. So I think it’s it’s, I think Brenda said it’s also about, you mobilize the community and you get people engaged in what’s going on. We as a community engaged about 50 different organizations and over 150 people to start connecting around services, around COVID. And what that has created a really cool eco system for helping organizations. So the food banks were giving excess food to group homes and to our Meals on Wheels program to use. Right, so it all starts rolling together. And what it does is it improves your chances for success and your positive outcomes. Post COVID. It creates a new way of working provincially real quickly. So we’ve we’ve developed a new system. In Alberta, where we’re looking for community based services for seniors. A model after a similar system in B.C. We already have Core Alberta, which is a collaborative online research and education portal, which we’ve done webinars and we’ve done discussion groups online, similar to this, over different projects related directly to seniors. In fact, I know some of my colleagues, Sean from age friendly Calgary’s here, as well as John and Carol from Alberta Seniors is here on with us, as well as my colleague from the Age Friendly Reference Group nationally. And we’ve also been exchanging ideas. So I think that’s a really big part of it is, is how do we work better together in order to produce the best outcomes? It’s not just one agency or THE government. Or A government working on it. It’s how do we all work better together to produce the best outcomes for seniors and the community.
Mary Rowe [00:41:07] Yeah, and for the community at large. You know, I said we’re in the connective tissue business, but I also feel that CUI is in the urban empathy business. How can we get to a place where we appreciate our interdependency? Laura, you wanted to jump in, I think, on the notion of private and public just getting – it would be great if we could get that set to rest, because if there’s a perception out there, I want to know if it’s true. And then, Vanessa, I’m going to call back on you. We’ve not forgotten about you, Vanessa. You are invisible, but not forgotten. So we’re going to come to you next. OK, Laura, go.
Laura Tamblyn-Watts [00:41:32] So the evidence is still coming in. But in a time of COVID 19, it is not necessarily index between public and private. There are other factors, including leadership, the age of the facility and so on, which have been more impactful – doesn’t mean whether we should or shouldn’t have that. It’s important. And most have also had a hard time understanding the difference between long term care or personal care homes if you’re a Manitoba or whatever you might call the nursing home care. And what we kind of call assisted living or a retirement homing, which tends to be private and because they sometimes end up actually offering the same type of care, which is another question that we should have a discussion on. People are often confused between how it’s regulated and what service provision is. So the answer is no. There’s slightly worse in some urban centers, particularly in Quebec, in Ontario, in the private, but it’s not statistically significant. The one thing I just want to jump in on, and this is the thing that’s problematic when we’re talking about seniors, we sometimes like to slip to how good things are and. Wonderful they are and how great it is. I really got to tell you, that’s not the experience of older people in congregate care settings in COVID 19. The narrative has shifted to outdoor cafes and golfing. I have to tell you, we are still in stage one. I have people dying every single day of terrible circumstances across this country, but we easily shift away from not wanting to look at those difficult scenarios and wanting to redirect to what I think, you know, it is important. We talked about active aging and healthy aging. And I was the first person to say overwhelmingly it’s at home, but it’s so easy to take your mind off the fact that we have cockroach infections, that we have people who spent three days without being fed, we have people sitting in their feces. We have people crying out for help for hours on end. And we let this happen in Canada. That we are 14th out of 14 of the OECD countries in worst possible outcomes and that 18 percent of all infections were in long term care. And eighty one percent of all Canadian deaths. So let’s not kind of slip too far away from realizing that we’ve created this other barrier. And when we’re looking at solutions, it’s very easy to kind of say this is an easier solution and we can’t see you in long term care. We have these walls up when somehow you’re in some type of an institution, even though of course you’re actually not.
Brenda Vrkljan [00:44:10] I think when people are in that in that circumstance, right. They sometimes don’t have a voice. The people that are working in there, we talked a little bit about the diversity of the workforce that’s there and, you know, juggling multiple, often also marginalized populations. So I just I think this notion of, you know, the caregiver’s exhausted, perhaps on both sides, the informal, and formal caregivers. So this idea of being able to self advocate for ourselves and I know that we have some some octogenarians on the line here today who are able to advocate for themselves and others. But I think that’s the problem, that this population has been silent for so long. Behind the walls of long term care, these larger congregate settings, that it’s only been the mortality rates that has given them a voice, which is very, very sad.
Mary Rowe [00:45:00] Which is tragic. Vanessa, I want to come back to you and see if we can hear you, at least, just a point that – I appreciate the criticism that someone has made. Jenny Heisler has made that we don’t have anybody on this panel with lived experience. And that is a mistake. That’s that’s a short coming from our point of view at CUI in terms of how we put these things together. And we always are struggling to make sure that we have a representation around the people that are actually engaged in the work, too. And all of you are advocates are academics, not actually providing care. The other point that’s been raised here is that lots of people have come into long term care facilities, maybe coming in as visitors. But in fact, they’re caregivers. And this is a blurring of roles. And so this is a complicated thing. I just want to just say, though, just say and Jenny, when you said there’s nobody on this panel over 60, that’s. I’m flattered. Thanks. I guess as moderator, I’m not considered a panelist, but I can assure you I’m over 60.
Rob Miyashiro [00:45:56] I’m just about there.
Mary Rowe [00:45:58] And Rob’s almost there, so. But I don’t want to minimize the point. The point is completely legitimate that we have, that there are people here who are speaking on behalf of. And we need to make sure that we’re more cognizant of that and having more lived experience here. Vanessa. Let’s try your system. Can we hear you? Can we hear you? I don’t think we can. This is regrettable. Vanessa, you can type your comments into the chat and then people will look at them. And sadly, we’re not going to be able to have you, I think, participate directly. That’s unfortunate, but it’s the way it is. Let’s go to the social isolation piece. Could we folks? Because we’ve got people living in congregate settings. And we have people living with home care at home. And then you’ve got lots of people that may not, may not present as needing anything, but in fact, perhaps do. We had an interesting experience on city talk. Our second most popular in terms of numbers, city talk. We had hundreds of people come on to talk with librarians and the head of the library systems, I think Hamilton, said that his staff decided to call every cardholder over seventy five just to check in with them to see if they knew how to use the digital system to get a book online. And what they found was that the people were so appreciative of the call and they didn’t really want to talk about the library, they wanted to talk about everything else. And so the librarians have continued to make those calls weekly to those people. So are there new ways that we can create, we can reinforce and support one another? Thoughts on that in terms of going and I don’t want to minimize what, Laura saying, because as she says, there are fundamental policy changes that have to change, so that lives are not lost.
Brenda Vrkljan [00:47:36] I think, you know, to make sure that we’re not sitting in our lovely academic silos as well and having discussions, all of our research projects at McMaster in the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging include older adult stakeholders. So I want to say that it is really important to us that we include the voice and that first person voice and that lived experience in terms of the way we design our projects there. They’re equal members of the team. Not surprisingly, we have to think about how they’re trained, our patient engagement partners, for them to be able to understand, because sometimes, you know, we get the nerdy talk. But nonetheless, I think, I think the idea of people being able to understand people’s lived experience, we’re doing a survey right now, 400 Hamiltonians. To understand the implications on their mobility and participation. And these are aren’t people that are institutionalized. They were meant to engage in our other project. Right. So this idea of already finding out how people are doing, how they’re managing in the home. And to Laura’s point, you know, it looks like the people that are responding to our survey, even though it’s random in terms of recruitment, do seem to be on the healthier side. And that may be the way things are panning out. But I think it is really important to try to get to those marginalized voices and how do we do that to make sure they’re included as well. In our research. And that’s always an ongoing challenge.
Mary Rowe [00:49:06] It’s almost it’s almost insurmountable, though, that the current structure of aging, whether you’re in a congregate setting or not, falls to women, almost, I mean, I think it’s also it’s heavily gendered. Right? And in terms of people providing care in congregate settings, they’re women of color. Right?
Rob Miyashiro [00:49:23] Getting at the truly isolated people, though, is more than just surveying in phones. So giving a really quick example. So Alberta seniors and housing and Telus were going to do a project to get phone lines to people who are isolated so they could call, call or get called. Well, here’s a catch 22 is how do you find those people? You can’t find them, even with all of our outreach programs and all the stuff that my staff do and other social care agencies across the province. You can’t find the people that no one can find because there’s no way to get to them. The only way that we think we can get to them is a project we’re trying to start right now is is a mail box drop of postcards to every single door in Lethbridge.
Mary Rowe [00:50:08] What do you mean you can’t get to them? You mean there’s no there’s no phone?
Rob Miyashiro [00:50:13] But how do you know if they don’t have a phone and they’re not connected to anybody? How do you know who they are?
Brenda Vrkljan [00:50:18] You know in Hamilton, there’s people that aren’t getting their old age security, which would be huge. Right. Rob, and I bet that’s something else. So, you know, the city of Hamilton, we’ve worked with them as well. And they have projects where they’re at the same, people going out and knocking on the door of the address because that’s, you know, but even then – will they answer the door? Right? So this is a major challenge. I like the postcard idea a lot.
Rob Miyashiro [00:50:40] So that’s a big job that my social work staff do, as well is to connect people to financial resources. And then if you find that they haven’t been getting those, the right funding for a number of years, there’s probably some mental illness there as well.
Mary Rowe [00:50:54] You know, if we were living in the southern U.S., people would be talking, they would be talking about faith institutions. But that isn’t part of how.
Laura Tamblyn-Watts [00:51:02] So we are actually already talking about faith institutions. I’m working with the archbishop of Canada and the Anglican Church and the Lutheran Church. We’re working on interfaith initiatives across this country because we actually are seeing interfaith attendance by about 10x. Across more of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths in this country. So because they’re not showing up, but they’re attending virtually. So we’ve actually been working very, very strongly with the faith community. The other one that we started up was with Queen’s university, it’s a pilot program, which we’re going to be rolling out to other universities, I hope, to scale. Where instead of calling up and asking for money about alumni, they’re using their database to identify older alumni who are a certain age, who have no one else that lists living with them. And we started friendly visitor calls. So this is a trusted envelope of people. They know it’s coming from a place that they already know. They have a trust relationship and they’re meeting three to five times a week virtually, and they have a 20 percent uptake from calls. I mean, that’s an extraordinary – three to five times a week, 20 percent uptake. So we’re seeing kind of where communities already exist and whether or not those are emotional communities, spiritual and faith communities or other types of communities, as opposed to kind of the cold call knocking on the door. So we really think that there’s an important way of building on those relationships. But faith communities are an integral part of this as well.
Brenda Vrkljan [00:52:33] Multi modal, right? We have to go to multiple angles, multiple ways. And again, that just speaks to the heterogeneity of the aging population of our population in general. Right. So we have to be really creative.
Mary Rowe [00:52:46] Is there some way to sustain this after COVID? I mean, if we if we had all these relationships stitched together before, we’d be in a much healthier situation when a crisis like this occurs. So if if the impact of COVID abates, do you think we can lay down some of this track? Meghan, are you thinking about that?
Meghan Winters [00:53:03] Well, I think one of the things prior our work on social connectedness, let’s say, was seen as a bit of a soft health outcome. Nice to have but we’re interested in more mortality or, you know, whatever, cancer. Hard to sort of get money to do research, to fund programs. And what I really notice now is like the priority – there’s little pools of money for organizations supporting social connectedness, social isolation and really addressing that head on. So one thing I think that will shift already has and will continue to – is to continue to identify that as a core health outcome, which, you know, people working with older adults have been asking for that for decades already, that this is, affects health in so many different ways and prevalent ways. So I think that that shift will happen. There’ll be more hopefully funding for programs in a long term sort of way and lessons learned as to how to help them, because it is people who are the most isolated. But I mean, speaking of my own parents who are able to live independently, it’s hitting people hard. Even people who well connected and had networks before, you know, are really struggling with social isolation through these. And our technological connections can help. To some degree. But a hug! How different does that feel? Or a face to face chat even farther away. How different does that feel? So I tried to reach out to the broad swath of people possible.
Mary Rowe [00:54:23] Just going to say we’ve only got four minutes left. So each of you roundtable to one minute each. And Vanessa is valiantly typing into the chat. Thank you, Vanessa, for being flexible. One minute each, Brenda, for what you think
Brenda Vrkljan [00:54:39] I think, you know, we have to obviously address the needs of the aging population. But I think the next generations we have, you know, this undergraduate group at McMaster, for example. And we’re trying to reach out even to just the first year undergraduates to start to, I’ll say, train them, to interact with others, to have conversations and matching them with healthy, so to speak, community dwelling seniors. And so when they graduate. Boy, do we have better citizens. I teach a class at McMaster. Somebody said, actually, what you’re teaching in this class is how to be a better citizen. So how do you, you know, have a conversation, address, stigma and stereotype? Listen to people. Listen to what they want. And I think that is such an important aspect is to have, I guess, a more caring society. Call me Pollyanna. But I think that is really important. How do you just check in on a neighbor and be a caring person? I think it starts with our next generation of Canadians who are wonderful.
Mary Rowe [00:55:34] Rob, a minute from you, please.
Rob Miyashiro [00:55:36] Quick minute. Let’s learn from from this whole the whole experience. Let’s learn about how we work together to make things better for people. What’s worked? What hasn’t worked. Let’s look at what’s – positive outcomes for for some seniors. My mom’s 86. She lives independently and in a condo, she golfs, she visits her friends that are on the first floor. She’ll sit outside their balcony and have wine with them over the balcony. She does chats, doorway chats with people. They’re sending the hall, she sends in her entry. So to give you a look at positive things like that, you and you build on that and you look at the collaborative efforts by community organizations to make life better for people and seniors. And you keep building with that and then keep that up post cOVID so that we have this preparedness the next time this happens or the next wave or the third wave. We’re already have this infrastructure in place whether it’s formal or informal and we’re all working together. So this is this is provincially. This is regionally. This is nationally.
Mary Rowe [00:56:37] This (points to either side) this thing again. OK. Meghan, a minute from you, please.
Meghan Winters [00:56:40] Just say that, you know, we really need to step up now and take seriously the responsibility to build resilient communities. So take this as a disruption and let’s make sure that the call to action happens so that maybe there’s less of this (points to either side) so that we can learn from the quick steps we took and the pilots that we took to sort of build more permanent solutions to people living in congregated care for people aging in place in the community as well.
Mary Rowe [00:57:06] And you, Laura, minute from you.
Laura Tamblyn-Watts [00:57:09] I want us to think about how we want to slip into happiness and well-being and sometimes forget that things are not so good behind doors and that when we’re creating public policy, the feel good stuff is important. But actually, policy needs to focus on those who are most marginalized and most vulnerable.
Mary Rowe [00:57:32] All right.
[00:57:34] Well, listen, I appreciate this so many of the themes that you folks have. And Vanessa, your minute. It has to be on the chat. So we hope you’ll put your last thought on the chat. I’m just wrapping up here. So many of these themes, I think, exist in other sessions on city talk. And we’re starting to get a sense of this voice. How do we ground public policy in actual experience? How do we look at the specifics of a place and what they’re struggling with? How do we make sure as you’re just suggested that people that are disproportionately affected by this kind of a crisis, how do we then redirect resourcing and thinking and that and really smart interventions to to address that particular crisis? The one size never fits all, right? So we’re very appreciative of you folks coming on. We always say this city talk is not the end of the conversation, it’s the beginning of a conversation. So we hope you’ll continue that. All of you at hashtag city talk with the reporting here. We’ve also had many sessions like this where we feel like we just scratched the surface and that we need to come back and have a more in-depth conversation. So we look forward to people suggesting to us what the next conversation should be in terms of what we really understand, the impact on seniors and older an aging population and how that’s changing right in front of our eyes. We published a report at COVID 100. You can go look at it and talk specifically about vulnerable populations on Thursday. We have another city talk where we’re going to talk about the other end of the spectrum. We’re going to talk about young people and we’re gonna actually talk in this case we’re gonna talk with young people. So the criticism won’t be leveled on us there that we didn’t have the direct group effect, that we do have young people on on the session on Thursday and then next week, we have a huge, huge focus on the right to home. You’ll be seeing more of that coming in your inbox. We have film screenings and we have several panels and we have many people participating on that who have lived experience as homeless or precariously housed Canadians. And this is one of those challenges, like the one that you folks have been identifying with us here. One of those challenges that we feel like we’ve got to try to emerge from COVID with some solutions. So let’s hope that we spark a bit of a conversation here about how do we emerge with some solutions, because we’re all getting older and we want to make sure that we’re not disproportionately disadvantaging vulnerable people as they get older. So could I just thank Brenda, Laura, Meghan and Rob and the invisible Vanessa for coming on to city talk today, and I wish you a good day and thank you again for participating with us.
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From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://canurb.org/citytalk
12:03:20 From Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:03:47 From Caroline Bergeron: Thank you for organizing this webinar!
12:03:52 From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
12:04:10 From Negin Minaei: Good afternoon, Negin from Toronto
12:04:14 From Khatereh Baharikhoob to All panelists: Hi from Toronto!
12:04:16 From Joanne Gillespie to All panelists: hi, listening in from Oakville
12:04:18 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb
12:04:21 From Laura Tamblyn-Watts: Hi everyone!
12:04:21 From Ahmed Mohammed Moola: Hi Everyone, Ahmed from Johannesburg South Africa.
12:04:32 From Leigh Stickle: Hello from Vancouver!
12:04:48 From John Mungham to All panelists: Hi from Calgary
12:04:51 From Catherine Soplet: Catherine Soplet, tuning in from Mississauga. @Soplet on Twitter – experiencing COVID as a young senior under beautiful Clarkson-area tree canopy
12:04:53 From Carrie Cotton: Hello from Victoria, BC:D
12:04:56 From Mark Anderson: Good AFTERNOON, Mark from Hamilton, Ontario
12:05:44 From Yurij Pelech to All panelists: Gbc c
12:05:45 From Heather MacDonald to All panelists: Hello from Oakville ON
12:06:12 From Sahra-Lea Tosdevine-Tataryn to All panelists: hello, Sahra-Lea Tosdevine-Tataryn, City of Surrey, BC Age Friendly for Seniors.
12:06:42 From Judy Brownoff to All panelists: Hello Judy from Saanich
12:06:59 From Mary Kenny to All panelists: Mary from Halifax!
12:07:02 From Yurij Pelech to All panelists: Greetings from Bessant Pelech Associates Inc (Mississauga ON) gerontologists / LTC consultants and urban planners
12:07:09 From Laura Tamblyn-Watts: Greetings from Sandy Cove NS
12:07:09 From Caroline Poole, CUI Staff: Today’s CityTalk panelists are:
Vanessa Campisi: https://twitter.com/cityoftoronto
Rob Miyashiro: https://twitter.com/RobMiyashiro1
Laura Tamblyn-Watts: https://twitter.com/ltamblynwatts
Brenda Vrkljan: https://twitter.com/BrendaVrkljan
Meghan Winters: https://twitter.com/ChatrLab
12:07:24 From Abigail Slater (SCT): Hello from Toronto
12:07:50 From Andrea Lam: Greetings from the unceded homelands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and traditional hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking people (Burnaby)
12:09:36 From Anika Abdullah: Hello from St. Catharines, ON!
12:17:16 From Purshottama Reddy: Can the panelists comment on intergovernmental co – ordination and co – operative governance between the three spheres of government and the NGO sector in the context of the COVID – 19 Pandemic. Was it a success or were there challenges, and if so what are the solutions?.
12:18:05 From Guillermo (Gil) Penalosa: Older Adults is 1/3 of our lives, it can be the best third, healthier & happier. Of this third, 90% people are pretty independent, while 10% (3 yrs) mostly dependent. Let’s hear about both, not much an age issue, but a condition. Some 100 y/o very independent and others, 60, dependent. LTC deaths is horrible, unacceptable, many could have been avoided; that is part of the ‘dependent.’ But independent have also suffered much, before & during.
12:21:12 From kendall christiansen: Other panels have noted the importance of immigrants that provide essential caregiving services, including with institutions. But nursing home occupancy rates – at least in the US – have dipped 20% or more, and will not recover soon, perhaps not for years. That means layoffs and furloughs will be coming, and directly affect those caregivers. What issues/concerns will that raise?
12:22:08 From Abigail Slater (SCT): As the daughter of 95 and 96 year old parents who are fortunate to be able to remain in their home with care, it is very clear thet the options for seniors, particularly vulnerable seniors are limited, expensive, inflexible and terrifying in general as our society ages. How can we fix what has been uncovered, but is not new, by Covid.
12:22:23 From Abigail Slater (SCT): ?
12:23:06 From Godwin Chan to All panelists: Can digital tools help overcome the social isolation in some ways?
12:25:45 From Caroline Poole, CUI Staff: Reminder to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments!
12:27:51 From kendall christiansen: to Laura: a recent population study projects the number of over-80’s will increase from 141 million in 2017 to 866 million in 2100 (worldwide)
12:30:09 From Godwin Chan: Can digital tools help overcome the social isolation in some ways?
12:34:21 From Abigail Slater (SCT): It was surprising to hear that only 20% of seniors are in congregant care…how many of the 80% aging at home are aging with dignity and are to living in poverty? And how do we reverse the “wharehousing”trend of the elderly and infirm to create support and structures for those that might be able to age in place? The current 1 or 2 day a week from care agencies is not enough to lessen the burden (usually on the daughters, while not exclusively). This is another issue that has a deep effect on women. And the increased aging is affecting the boomers ability to age in place themselves.
12:35:59 From Abigail Slater (SCT): I’m speaking specifically the old old…90’s plus. This demographic is rising and the cost of care is also rising.
12:38:04 From Anika Abdullah: Many seniors are choosing to age in place instead of using congregant care. What does ageing in place look like in the landscape of cities? How do our roads, walkways and public spaces become safe for people to age in?
12:38:33 From kendall christiansen: re digital tools: many care facilities have become good at managing video chats w family members as a substitute for personal visits; not perfect, and generally requires assistance, but Zoom-chats to see grandkids (and great-grandkids) can be wonderful
12:39:09 From Abigail Slater (SCT): In Lethbridge are those facilities private or publicly owned?
12:39:55 From Laura Tamblyn-Watts to All panelists: I can answer that
12:40:06 From Negin Minaei: That was actually a good point. We should keep bikers in their own lane not in the sidewalks. Last week I saw a cyclists crashed because she (was riding fast on that steep street) and was trying to give way to a mom with a stroller and little kid walking beside her coming towards the cyclist/. She couldn’t control, so crashed on the grass and hurt herself.
12:40:41 From Joanne Gillespie to All panelists: As a senior, I would love to see more “golden girl” type housing options. As you have already identified living alone is not fun, but the current option is primarily senior’s warehouses.
12:40:43 From Abigail Slater (SCT): Thank you Rob. I think that the experience is different in Toronto. I don’t think the privately owned facilities have fared so well.
12:40:48 From Pamela Fuselli to All panelists: What about the issue that many people called ‘visitors’ are actually ‘caregivers’ and an essential part of care for seniors in LTC?
12:41:09 From Canadian Urban Institute: Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments. Thanks!
12:42:56 From Abigail Slater (SCT): @Negin I am seeing way more cyclists (usually teens) on the sidewalks, which as a cyclist and mother I totally understand…i would not want my kids on Yonge street either. HOWEVER no one is educating these kids to WALK their bikes around pedestrians. They think that if they ring their bell it is enough. I think we need a massive education program for riders (even though technically it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk) that if you are on the sidewalk and you see a pedestrian ,you get off your bike until you see a clear path. I get it…our roads are not safe. Now our sidewalks are not safe either….
12:43:11 From Jenny Hiseler: I hope attendees are paying attention to the fact that this panel does not include anyone over sixty and we are not hearing from people with disabilities. We would not accept this in a panel on any other vulnerable group.
12:43:27 From Mark Venning: This webinar is great showing how COVID era drives home how important urban design, age friendly city redesign is everybody’s business to get involved and inter-generational project. Thanks Mary and CUI.
12:43:50 From Abigail Slater (SCT): @Jenny…good point.
12:44:37 From Abigail Slater (SCT): YES to Laura…it is VERY confusing.
12:45:11 From Abigail Slater (SCT): YES to Laura again.
12:45:25 From Abigail Slater (SCT): And the difference between old old and just old.
12:46:42 From Alexandra Flynn to All panelists: Excellent points, Laura – thank you for reminding us of the dire situations that many seniors face.
12:46:45 From Pamela Fuselli: What solutions are there to increase the support in the community to allow seniors to live independently as long as possible?
12:47:41 From Jenny Hiseler: thanks mary
12:48:04 From Negin Minaei: @Abigail that’s a good point. I knew there were NGOs that provide training for new riders, perhaps a serious mandatory riding classes and licensing bikers (like drivers) can help the safety of urban shared-space. I know it makes things more complicated but safer.
12:48:16 From Abigail Slater (SCT) to All panelists: (haha…I wasn’t going to say)
12:49:05 From Abigail Slater (SCT): @Negin in Holland all school age children take cycling classes throughout their schooling.
12:50:13 From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
12:50:26 From Jessica Wnuk to All panelists: ways in which folks are adding in more responsibilities to their roles… librarians to social workers, care givers etc.
12:50:37 From Alexandra Flynn to All panelists: Question for all – how does anti-Black, anti-Indigenous and other forms of racism intersect with the care for seniors (during this time of COVID019 and generally)?
12:50:59 From Laura Tamblyn-Watts: Hi Alexandra – care is significantly racialized
12:51:06 From Laura Tamblyn-Watts: And deeply gendered.
12:51:15 From Negin Minaei: @Abigail I know, right?! Loads to learn from the Dutch countries in terms of Sustainable and Smart transport. Such a shame that I couldn’t organize our transport conference with the CItyofTo before the COVID19.
12:51:46 From Laura Tamblyn-Watts: BIPOC care supports are fundamental to the system but are often also precarious workers who also have many of their own caregiving challenges at home
12:52:34 From zoe Levitt to All panelists: Try finding them through subsidized housing
12:52:39 From Catherine Soplet: As a young senior, when restrictions lifted and weather has been delectable, we host a weekly garden 3-hour BBQ to bring solo isolated single seniors without family members come together to make new friends, a handful at a time.
12:53:13 From Vanessa Campisi: City of Toronto is looking at what channels can we use to reach some of the harder to reach seniors, as you mention Rob. For example, for many seniors, reaching faith organizations.
12:53:27 From Vanessa Campisi: Or working with housing providers, even private, not just seniors social housing.
12:53:44 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb
12:53:46 From Negin Minaei: @Catherine, Wonderful! God bless
12:54:01 From Abigail Slater (SCT): Asian home care too…Yong Hee has done amazing work.
12:54:10 From Abigail Slater (SCT): And Italian I think…
12:54:17 From Godwin Chan: How can we help seniors to counter mis-information and not fall victims to phone/ Internet scams as they are isolated and vulnerable, particularly during pandemic period?
12:55:08 From Catherine Soplet: In my social network, health conditions of individuals have deterioriated without routine access to maintenance healthcare, dentists, therapeutic massage, etc. People with early onset Alzheimers living in home settings are channelling the DOVID emotional state.
12:55:20 From Godwin Chan: Yee Hong and Mon Sheong are two community-based institution serving the diverse seniors in the GTA.
12:55:26 From Canadian Urban Institute: What did you think of today’s conversation? Help us improve our programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/2CYV3ob
12:55:42 From Abigail Slater (SCT): There is SO much more to talk about.
12:56:41 From Christine Drimmie: aging parents who are physically well and in their own home but suffering short-term memory are able to use land line but no longer use computer to access anything. Virtual services/connections do not work for this group. And mistrust strangers who call them on the phone.
12:57:03 From Laura Tamblyn-Watts: 20% of Canadian seniors had no one to reach out to even in the case of an emergency pre-COVID. And its worse now.
12:57:22 From Sue Campbell to All panelists: excellent p
12:57:36 From Sue Campbell to All panelists: excellent conversation and panelists. thank you!
12:57:37 From Abigail Slater (SCT): @Christine so true.
12:57:39 From Catherine Soplet: I have alerted Mississauga Seniors’ Council to CUI webinar – fabulous to have this conversation. THANK YOU.
12:57:47 From Joanne Gillespie to All panelists: Meghan, thank you, you really get it! The screen doesn’t replace face to face
12:58:20 From Keith Reading to All panelists: Wonderful conversation, glad to see smart people making a difference!
12:58:43 From Abigail Slater (SCT): What is hard to manage is how fast an able senior can become less abled.
12:59:49 From Jenny Hiseler: woooo!
13:00:07 From Daniella Balasal: Great point Laura. Thank you all!
13:00:15 From Joanne Gillespie to All panelists: Laura thanks for being the realist
13:00:26 From zoe Levitt to All panelists: Laura, Thank you thank you thank you. You are so reality bound, needing to always remind us about the plight of seniors during covid
13:00:32 From Vanessa Campisi: Thanks everyone and apologies for the tech difficulties. One thing that has been working so well is PARTNERSHIP – daily, close working between community agencies and organizations who support most vulnerable seniors, volunteer groups stepping up, donors wanting to get involved, research institutions, City divisions and agencies. COVID has exacerbated so many issues but has also quickly got flexible, fast responses going in partnership with so many. Let’s build on this
13:00:37 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb
13:00:54 From Purshottama Reddy: Perhaps a representative from Provincial or Federal Government would have assited in terms of a governmental response.
13:01:18 From Negin Minaei: Thank you
13:01:30 From Jessica Wnuk to All panelists: Looks amazing!
13:01:34 From Abigail Slater (SCT): Thank you!1
13:01:45 From Sue Campbell to All panelists: 🙋♀️ thanks CUI