Increasing independence and reducing isolation
COSTI has always supported every age demographic, especially our fast-growing, elderly population. Throughout 2021/22, our efforts continued to focus on targeting isolated seniors, and connecting them to much needed care.
With the repercussions of COVID-19 still being felt, and its additional risk factors for seniors, our work continued to centre around digital and safe programming. For many seniors living alone at home, the need for emotional connection and mental stimulation is greater than ever. We know too that many newcomer seniors may also face the compounded challenges of language and cultural barriers.
Our Seniors’ Services cover a range of activities including sharing information about community and government services including financial support programs and referrals to access additional services.
While onsite programming for the Encuentro Latino group had to be suspended, we continued to adapt with virtual supports. The group, designed to meet the unique needs of Spanish-speaking seniors, moved forward with COSTI staff providing telephone support, as well as the distribution of seasonal, informative newsletters all geared to increase social connections. One-on-one counselling was also provided virtually – and in some urgent cases, onsite visits with the appropriate safety protocols, were accommodated.
The new iPad Training program, is an example of our strategic commitment to grow our digital resources and increase our agility in supporting clients. COSTI’s CBAO Seniors Day program developed a step-by-step iPad training program to support the elderly in ethnocultural communities, improve social connections and maintain good mental health. Launched as a pilot project between December 2021 and March 2022, the program objectives were to train 10 Italian-speaking seniors on how to use iPads to connect with family and friends, navigate the internet and conduct searches on subjects of interest. A program evaluation survey revealed that 100% of participants enjoyed using the iPad, so much so that all participants noted they would recommend the program to family and friends.
As a result of the pilot’s positive outcome, the CBAO Seniors Day program received additional funding support to expand training to Spanish-speaking seniors in 2022/23.