Mosaic’s submission to the Toronto Senior’s Strategy

Posted by admin on May 25, 2018 in Age Friendly Cities & Communities |

Regarding – EX34.2, Toronto Seniors Strategy Version 2.0

Mosaic Homecare & Community Resource Centres would like to formally extend its support to the recommendations made in Toronto Seniors Strategy Version 2.0.

Mosaic is a private homecare company with a strong history of community outreach and has been providing community resources, space, fun and educational events throughout the Greater Toronto Area for the last eight years since its incorporation. It is committed to reducing social vulnerability through community interaction, education and outreach and has a strong history of non profit community engagement and focus.

For the last eight years Mosaic has been promoting the importance of collaboration between for profit, not for profit and public sector entities in addressing the need to make our cities age friendly, inclusive and accessible and fully supports the World Health Organisation’s plans and directives for healthy aging and age friendly communities.

Addressing social vulnerability, especially the social and emotional aspects impacting isolation and loneliness shapes both our service delivery and our non profit community interaction. As an entity operating in the private sector we are one of the very few firms operating in accordance with what we believe to be the evolution of the firm with primarily for profit objectives to one that incorporates a theory of the community at its operational core. We believe that successfully implanting an age and community friendly strategy across our cities will rely on much higher levels of private, not for profit and public sector engagement.

Mosaic has received global recognition for its person centered community integrated model of care in the community and has received Gold Medal Award recognition from the European Society for Person Centered Healthcare. It has been asked to speak at a number important conferences with respect to healthy aging in the community and will be speaking at the upcoming IFA Global Conference in Toronto In August, where Jane Teasdale our business development and community relations director will also be a session chair.

We are actively developing a model of care in the community that we feel provides a blueprint for much wider public sector engagement, especially in the realms of linking the socially vulnerable older adult to meaningful engagement with their communities. We see many gaps and opportunities to link people and their communities and would recommend that age friendly initiatives look at persons in general as beings of meaning and community. Age friendly communities are essentially person friendly communities and, as such, any community friendly initiative needs to develop a multifaceted concept of personhood that all ages and cultures and communities can recognise and closely associate with. We all differ in some respects, but what unites each and every one of us is our personhood, our drive for meaning and being and our engagement with others.

With respect to the Toronto Seniors Strategy Report 2.0 we make the following comments:

Equity Impact

We strongly support the focus on inequity and accessibility and acknowledge that the differences in well being are impacted by differences in privilege and wealth and believe that income and wealth inequalities are becoming increasingly important and consequential. In this respect we would like to see much higher levels of engagement in age friendly initiatives from the more profitable private corporations that benefit from society’s investment in social capital and higher levels of engagement from all areas of society in building and developing social capital and its wider infrastructure.

We would like to point out that the focus on equity is a parallel objective to the development of person friendly communities as a generic. What we mean is that there should be an objective model of community that we would like to achieve citywide. The focus on equity and accessibility should be one to ensure that all neighbourhoods have the same social capital investment, involvement and support and all individuals are not disadvantaged with respect to accessing community resources and activities.

Our models of community should apply city and community wide. Merely bringing up disadvantaged areas to what we believe to be inadequate standards of community engagement and infrastructure is insufficient in and of its own in helping to promote and develop age friendly, inclusive communities.

Social vulnerability is comprised of a range of contributing factors that are not restricted to those without wealth and privilege. We believe that modern day society as a whole has underinvested in community with far too much reliance being placed on spaces and places of consumption expenditure to provide social interaction, architecture and relationships with place (factors that drive connections to and feelings of community).

Community engagement

We support the wide ranging community engagement that has underpinned the development of the Toronto Seniors Strategy. We strongly support the development of a vision of community that understands and appreciates the very many different dimensions of community that exists within Toronto. We believe that communities should be all embracing and, while age friendliness is the driver of change in our communities, we need buy in from all age groups and from for profit as well as non profit entities.

A successful age friendly environment depends on higher levels of community interaction and acceptance of the need for community interaction from the young, the middle aged as well as the older adult population.

High Impact Recommendations

Recommendation 1

The City of Toronto will initiate a process to develop a seniors housing and services entity at the City dedicated to taking a service system management approach to the needs of all seniors and integrating City services for seniors

We fully support the recommendation to set up a central seniors housing and services entity. We would however also suggest that this new entity works closely with community and other relevant organisations that could be of help in providing input into the development of this new entity over time.

This recommendation may be a short term recommendation in terms of its initial implementation but the actual development of the entity is a long term project.

Health

Recommendation 2

The City of Toronto will explore how to expand access to free dental health services for low-income seniors through Toronto Public Health.

We support free dental health to low income seniors for the reasons noted in the report. Community is highly dependent on interaction and failure to address dental health will likely render much of the significant capital investment in our age friendly communities irrelevant.

Recommendation 3:

The City of Toronto in partnership with Toronto Community Housing will seek provincial funding for additional Seniors Active Living Centres in Toronto.

We support any initiative that directs more funding towards developing resources and infrastructure that engage older adults, socially vulnerable or otherwise, and that help build attractive inclusive communities.

We would however suggest that funds allocated toward the development of these resources also look at developing natural environs within communities that can accommodate intergenerational activities and encourage the development of places for social and community interaction within facilities and places that may not necessarily be considered solely for the use of older adults. At the moment emphasis seems to be placed on developing places where older primarily adults go and this tends to reinforce ageism dynamics. Older adults are capable and interested in contributing to mainstream society, a place where their efforts may not be as widely accepted as they should be.

We would like to see the development of a community architecture that integrates older adults’ creative, productive and social energies. We need to be creative and to think outside the boundaries of historical public sector engagement.

Again the report denotes this as a short term item whereas in fact community development in theory is a long term process. In this context we would like to see engagement of older adults in the evolution of the project itself.

Recommendation 4:

Toronto Public Library will support social connectedness by expanding digital literacy programs for seniors in libraries.

We fully support investment in our public libraries as important centres of community engagement. Libraries are important venues for a wider set of intergenerational and social activities that may also involve higher levels of productive engagement from both older adults and community businesses.

Recommendation 5:

The City of Toronto will expand Community Paramedicine programming in order to better support seniors who are high-volume 911 callers with non-emergency community care and supports.

We see evidence ourselves of the need for this type of initiative but we wonder whether this could be better achieved by investing in more community focused social workers who would be better equipped to deal with the wider set of needs and opportunities. These social workers are more likely to be embedded with knowledge in other available community resources as well as able to assist with other challenges individuals may be facing.

Recommendation 6:

The City of Toronto will work with the Province of Ontario and community partners to develop a Toronto Caregivers Strategy with an emphasis on the needs of senior caregivers.

We unequivocally support this recommendation.

Recommendation 7:

The City of Toronto will consider senior-friendly outdoor fitness equipment in the design and refurbishment of parks.

We unequivocally support this recommendation

Recommendation 8:

The City of Toronto will work with Toronto Community Housing and FoodShare to establish healthy food access initiatives that are accessible to seniors living in social housing through Toronto Public Health and the Toronto Food Policy Council.

We support this recommendation. Nutrition is an important aspect of healthy aging and the maintenance of intrinsic capacity.

HOUSING

Recommendation 9: housing

The City of Toronto will develop Housing Opportunities Toronto: Housing Action Plan (2020-2030) accounting for the evolving demographics and needs of older Torontonians over the next decade.

We support this recommendation. Rising rental and home ownership costs risk impoverishing large elements of Toronto’s population and represent a major risk to the survival and endurance of our communities.

Recommendation 10: housing

The City of Toronto will address the specific and growing needs of older Torontonians by continuing to create new affordable housing and fund housing repairs and accessibility modifications for seniors by delivering federal-provincial-City funding and City incentives

Again we unequivocally support this recommendation.

Recommendation 11:

The City of Toronto will seek funding from the Seniors Community Grant Program under the Ministry of Seniors Affairs to pilot a HomeShare program in Toronto to connect overhoused seniors with underhoused graduate students and others.

We support this recommendation.

Recommendation 12:

The City of Toronto will develop a new homeless shelter that provides specialized services for seniors and older adults.

We unequivocally support this recommendation and look forward to further innovations in addressing the much wider needs of this vulnerable segment of our community.

Recommendation 13:

The City of Toronto will implement the provincial Home for Good program funding to create and maintain housing with supports that meet the needs of formerly homeless persons including seniors.

We fully support this very important initiative.

Recommendation 14: age friendly

The City of Toronto will amend the Official Plan to recognize the City’s commitment to age-friendly principles.

We very strongly support this recommendation.

Recommendation 15:

The City of Toronto will negotiate the use of Section 37 benefits to develop new neighbourhood facilities to meet the needs of seniors as appropriate.

We support this recommendation with the proviso that it is supported by a detailed community plan for the surrounding area.

Recommendation 16:

The City of Toronto will provide seniors with new and customized information and tools that will empower them to ensure that they and their neighbours are living in a fire safe environment.

We support this fundamental requirement of safe community living.

TRANSPORTATION

Recommendation 17:

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) will develop and launch a new public awareness campaign to advance a culture of respect and civility for the benefit of seniors and other riders

We support any and all recommendations that further the necessary respect for persons in our community, but we also suggest that we do so by recognising the vitality and value of being irrespective of age, frailty and other health conditions. Community is founded on the strength of individual and communal being rather than wealth, social status and/or physical attributes.

Recommendation 18:

The City of Toronto will, as part of its commitment to Vision Zero, identify and install additional Seniors Safety Zones in conjunction with the Road Safety Plan.

We support this initiative while recognising that there is a need for much wider reaching road safety initiatives.

Recommendation 19:

The City of Toronto will construct new sidewalks on roads where they are missing to improve walkability, mobility and accessibility of City streets.

We support this initiative while at the same time recognising that issues with respect to sidewalks and walkability extend well beyond the recommendations noted. For example Toronto is a city with a long and hard winter and for large portions of the year many of our sidewalks are not safe for many older adults. With respect to walkability, pedestrian crossings, public washrooms and safety at intersections, during the many large construction projects we currently see in the city, are also issues.

Recommendation 20:

The Toronto Transit Commission will develop a travel training program to support increased senior access to public transit.

We support this recommendation but would also extend support to free transit for older adults. Free transit we believe is critical to creating higher levels of community engagement as well as for encouraging volunteering by our city’s older adults.

EMPLOYMENT AND INCOME

Recommendation 21:

The City of Toronto will work with community partners under Toronto For All to develop a workplace anti-ageism campaign.

We support this recommendation and in so doing wonder to what extent many of the initiatives recommended in this Seniors’ Strategy could not be supported by the active involvement of older adults generally.

Recommendation 22:

The City of Toronto will work with The 519, Senior Pride Network and other community partners to develop a public awareness and education campaign addressing homophobia and transphobia affecting seniors.

We fully support this important initiative.

Recommendation 23

The City of Toronto will expand employment support services to further address the needs of older workers, focusing on those in receipt of Ontario Works.

We support this initiative and also wonder to what extent these types of initiatives can be directed towards engaging older adults in the many creative opportunities that exist to develop our communities.

Recommendation 24:

The City of Toronto will enhance public awareness of property tax deferral and cancellation programs.

We fully support this recommendation.

Information

Recommendation 25:

The City of Toronto will work with the Seniors Strategy Accountability Table and other community partners to update and circulate the new Services for Seniors in Toronto directory.

We support this initiative. At the same time we would also like to point out gaps in information and communication of information on events and activities in the wider community. We would also point out a lack of places where people can go to access information and engage socially at the same time.

We note the many community mapping projects that appear to have stalled for lack of funding and we question whether there is sufficient focus on connecting older adults to activities and interests in the wider community. Information on the basics needs of a person are clearly important (housing, food, financial supports etc) but many of the higher order needs that also have significant impact on health and healthy aging are, we feel, largely ignored.

We also see a need to connect the many services and opportunities available to the older adult in the community to one another. We see the need to link public, not for profit and for profit entities, not just to enhance the information richness of the communication but to foster collaboration and community problem solving. One major area of weakness in the current proposals is that there is a general absence of recommendations for wider community engagement on an ongoing basis. We feel that engendering a society where discrimination with respect to age, biological, sexual orientation and culture are relics of the past requires a much deeper collaborative architecture.

We also feel that the resources required to care for and fully integrate our communities towards a common goal lies outside the current resources available to our local governments and our health and social care institutions. The private sector, especially those private sector companies with high operating margins need to be more committed to the communities in which they operate.

At the same time, in order for each and everyone of us to become a vital part of community we need to rid ourselves of institutional boundaries which have delineated service delivery to the older adult. We need a much more seamless architecture in which to engage older adults and through which we can help integrate them with the wider community. This requires much more creative thinking with respect to what our communities need to look like and how our resources are allocated, not just for services, but also for infrastructure. Should we continue to define community engagement for the older adult within areas specifically earmarked for older adults, or should we be looking forward to a society which barely recognises the difference in age and engages with each other as human beings of meaning and community at all ages?

Recommendation 26:

The City of Toronto will work with all Ward Councillors to hold Seniors Active Living Fairs in order to facilitate outreach and communication of the burgeoning range of diverse products and services available for seniors.

We are fully supportive of all methods of communicating with and informing older adults as to the opportunities and surmountable challenges associated with healthy aging.

Recommendation 27:

Toronto Police Service, in collaboration with key partners, will create a seniors-inclusive training curriculum aimed at increasing officer awareness around ageing related issues and increasing officer capacity to connect seniors to appropriate community services

We are fully supportive of this recommendation.

Summary

We are very supportive of the 27 recommendations made in the Toronto Senior Strategy 2.0.

We have noted areas where we feel the recommendations do not go far enough and in particular we note that more could be done to foster private, public and not for profit collaboration.

We also note that the emphasis of the recommendations seems to be focused on retaining an existing architecture that retains the delineation between young and old and would strongly recommend that future investment in structure and services looks to provide a community architecture that is seamless with respect to age and perceptions of intrinsic capacity and contribution to community from all areas of its domain. It is not so much that we need to occupy older people while they are no longer intrinsically relevant, but that we need to recognise that older adults remain vital and capable of contributing to the fabric, colour and vitality of society as society itself ages. Many older adults may need more accommodation, but their contributions are no less relevant.

Moreover we need to define a vision for our community, for our society, as to how we address inequity and community in terms of overarching community principles. We would also like to see the development of a wider set of community bodies working from the grass roots up to continuously inform developments by local government as well as to provide autonomous decision making with respect to certain key aspects of community, connections and communication.

We feel that the development of community is a much more detailed process than that shown in the Toronto Seniors Strategy and that the local government plans represent only one aspect of the overall process towards the development of an age friendly all inclusive and active community. These other aspects need to be recognised and encouraged to develop. While certain aspects of community organisation and development are dependent on the larger city, provincial and federal remit, there are many aspects of community that need to be shaped by the narrower environs of the community unit and membership of a given community itself. In this respect defining the size of the community unit is critical and we feel the work involved in mapping communities with respect to its many dimensions holds an important key to the definition and development of community itself.

We would like to thank those individuals and organisations who have clearly spent considerable time and energy towards shaping the future of our great city and its environs. We very much appreciate all the work and look forward to providing input into its further development and evolution.

Kind regards

Yours Sincerely

Jane Teasdale Nathalie Anderson

Business Development Director Operations Director

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