Creating a coordinated community-based seniors serving sector in Alberta
The value of community-based seniors serving organizations
Community-Based Seniors Serving (CBSS) organizations play an important role in proactively meeting the needs of an increasingly complex, diverse and growing seniors’ population in our province.
The supports and services provided by CBSS organizations improve health and social outcomes for older adults. This includes programs and supports that address affordable housing, health and wellness, social inclusion, access to affordable transportation, financial security, system navigation, nutrition and food security, physical activity, and many other services that are non-medical in nature, but crucial for healthy aging in community.
CBSS organizations may be a non-profit agency such as a senior centre, or a community organization that provides social and recreational programs and/or support services for area seniors. It could include the provision of senior services through a municipal agency.
Why do we need a coordinated sector?
The needs of seniors transcend sector boundaries between health systems, housing systems, community services, municipalities, and government programs.
CBSS organizations in Alberta are diverse and there is considerable variance in the types of services, programs, and capacity between organizations working to meet the needs of seniors. A provincially coordinated senior serving sector would allow for consistent service delivery by facilitating interactions between community-based seniors organizations in a system fashion.
If we start this journey together, the hope is that CBSS organizations can leverage the strengths and assets of the community and ensure that programs and services are provided by the most efficient and effective provider, at the right time to meet the needs of seniors.
There is no mechanism in place currently to coordinate and articulate the work and impact of CBSS organizations in Alberta. Being proactive at a sector level will prevent bigger systems such as health taking on CBSS work and re-creating non-medical supports at a greater cost and with less connection to the communities they serve.
Four organizations—with support from the Alberta Government Ministry of Seniors and Housing—have partnered to conduct initial conversations about how to organize organizations into a coordinated Community-Based Seniors Serving (CBSS) sector in Alberta that would be able to facilitate communication and coordination with other large sectors such as health and housing. The Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council, Sage Seniors Association, carya, and Age-Friendly Calgary are leading discussions across the province.
For more information, contact Sheila Hallett, Executive Director, Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.