Seniors now have Ambassador Connectors to guide them getting the information they need.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

December 11, 2014



In 2013 the Burlington Age-Friendly Seniors Council created an audit that identified the strengths, gaps and barriers for Burlington being a truly Age-Friendly City. One of the recommendations from the audit was the overwhelming need for seniors to be able to access information in ways that they needed it.

Everything from health services, recreation, nutrition, transportation, volunteer opportunities, tax information and much more. The issues were identified by seniors and caregivers in Burlington and throughout Halton.

What seniors consistently had difficulty with was being put on hold or told to press 1 for more information or 2 for something else. They wanted to be able to talk to someone – have a face to face encounter – and get the information and help they needed.

Senior connectors Volunteer Halton

Heather Thompson, on the far right with the first class of Senior Ambassador Connectors were celebrated earlier this week. Paul Benson and Glenna Cranston are in wheelchairs in the front row,

Heather Thompson, Manager of Corporate and Community Engagement at Community Development Halton thought the Burlington Age-Friendly Council could do something to improve the way information was given to seniors and family members, empowering them to make informed decisions. The need had been clearly identified; Thompson and her team had to find a way to meet it. They discovered a program called Senior Connectors at the Seniors Come Share Society in British Columbia.

They had a program that was delivering a service reaching seniors in a significant way.

Paul WHO in wheel chair - Senior

Paul Benson is a Senior Ambassador Connector because he has something to say and he wanted to learn so that he could help others.

That was all Volunteer Halton needed to established the Senior Ambassador Program, where senior volunteers promote and talk to other seniors about the benefits of volunteering as people age, keeping them active, engaged and connected to their communities while making a difference. The Senior Ambassador Program consists of an Advisory Committee made up of members from each of four municipalities in Halton; Halton Hills, Milton, Oakville and Burlington.

Thompson and her colleagues met on Tuesday to celebrate the accomplishments of 10 volunteers who have completed the education and training component for the Senior Ambassador Connector Program. Volunteer Halton, a program of Community Development Halton, has been the lead on this initiative, with the Burlington Age-Friendly Seniors Council as a collaborative partner, working together to improve communication, information and resources for seniors and their families.

A grant from the Ontario Seniors Secretariat covered the start-up costs.

Glenda Cranston Senior with dog

Glenna Cranston hasn’t let her wheelchair get in the way of being a volunteer who helps other seniors dig out the information they need to live full lives.

Acclaim Health, formerly known as VON, Victorian Order of Nurses, the Alzheimer’s Society, Burlington Public Library, Chartwell Retirement Residence, Community Care Access Centre – HNBH, ESAC – Region of Halton, Halton Geriatric Mental Health Outreach Program, Halton Regional Police Service – Salt, Seniors Help Line, Links2Care and Service Canada were among the organizations that came together to make this happen.

The training included: Mental health and aging, risk factors and where to go for help; Services available to seniors in Halton – housing, long-term care, supports to be able to live at home, volunteer visiting, support for caregivers, bereavement support, day programs for seniors with Alzheimer’s; Elder Abuse; Dementia and the importance of brain health; Eligibility for CPP, Old Age Security; Personal boundaries and volunteer opportunities

Monthly education sessions, case studies, and a continual update on new information will get done in 2015

Joan Gallagher-Bell, Ross Bell, Tracy Angus, Karen Phelps, Florence Riehl, Ellie Tyndall, Glenna Cranston and Carole Ward were part of the first set of Senior Ambassador Connectors.

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