An Age-Friendly Ottawa means that older adults and seniors have convenient access to an integrated system of community support and health services which are inclusive, responsive and tailored to individual needs. The provision of these services not only addresses immediate needs but also strengthens seniors’ connection to the community, reducing the risk of social isolation.
Our approach is to help connect seniors to community support and health services. Through the Take Charge of Your Health pilot project we are training potential Health Ambassadors to facilitate a series of health literacy sessions for small groups of seniors; the sessions are based on a peer-learning model and focused on helping seniors to obtain the healthcare information they need to make optimal healthcare decisions. We are also committed, together with the COA Health Issues Committee, to advocating for better coordination and adequate funding in the community service sector to improve seniors’ access to services that will help them to age at home.
In 2014, a total of 40 seniors volunteered as either peer-learning facilitators or participants in the first phase of the pilot health literacy program. We trained 16 volunteers in small group facilitation and the content for the health literacy sessions; five of these volunteers went on to facilitate a series of six health literacy sessions in October/November.
Health literacy sessions have been conducted in 4 venues during October 2015 through the efforts of a volunteer health literacy working group.
Seventy seniors participated in one of four training sessions for volunteer peer-learning facilitators held on 31 March and 7 April, 2015.