Our tri-project collective developed with a focus on reducing isolation, social withdrawal, and disorientation among caregiving seniors aged 55+ caring for a child, teen or adult and living in Montreal. There are approximately 4.1 million people living in the Greater Montreal Metropolitan area. 25% of that population or 1,025,000 is estimated to be 55 years or older. 1 in 4 of those 1,025,000 million people is a family caregiver according to an assessment of frequency of caregiving in Canadian households
Decades of research and practice with family caregivers have demonstrated that caregiving can increase one’s sense of social isolation and feelings of disconnection. Several related concepts such as reduced social contact, being alone, isolation, and feelings of loneliness have all been associated with a reduced quality of life in older people. Social isolation has been identified as the most frequently observed risk for caregivers and the risk that most increases with time. Recognizing that caregivers face distinct and diverse challenges during the care they provide has initiated the need for three distinct programs – a community based drop-in program, a peer mentorship program and an online virtual community platform.
Our collective impact plan focuses on reducing senior caregiver isolation by connecting caregivers to their peers and informal and formal resources and supports. The three projects are described below:
The Cummings Drop In Program provides respite to caregivers and helps to maintain and improve the social, physiological, emotional and cognitive abilities of older adults. Evidence-based activities are based on the needs and interests of the participants and include creative arts, cognitive stimulation, physical activities, holiday parties, and community service projects. This program is offered in collaboration with the Cummings Centre, the City of Cote St Luc, and the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montreal.
The Caregiver Navigator Project aims to provide emotional and information support to isolated senior caregivers through peer mentorship by assessing the needs of isolated caregivers, providing support, guidance and companionship through the care journey. This includes assisting isolated senior caregivers in having better access to formal and informal networks of support and ensuring that isolated senior caregivers have access to others who can empathize with and validate their caregiving experience
Huddol is a social collaboration application, connecting seniors across Canada to the right information at the right time in their health journey. Huddol builds supportive networks around seniors by linking them to professionals, health organizations, and people who have walked a mile in their shoes. Huddol encourages seniors to contribute their tacit or learned knowledge by providing tools for inter-member connectivity and sharing.
Huddol Benefits – An eco-system of support
Huddol fosters transference of knowledge and resources across organizations to support building inter-professional collaboration networks. Huddol provides a platform for organizations to amplify their reach and positive impact on senior populations.
Mission of the three projects
Reducing senior caregiver isolation is a process of change, both at the personal, social and systemic level. Together, the three projects intend to help address many of the mitigating factors that contribute to caregiver withdrawal, as well as developing an in depth understanding of the key factors that predict caregiver connection over disconnection. Along that spectrum of change we expect to address a multitude of facets associated with the senior caregiver experience that will help to reduce isolation, including caregiver self-recognition, awareness (self and other), navigation and coordination, access and connectivity. The structure will include:
- A multi-sectorial collaboration to identify at risk caregivers;
- Online tools to assist caregivers in self reporting;
- Trained caregiver navigators and advocates;
- A physical environment in a community setting for a Drop In Program;
- A virtual environment where caregivers can connect, share, communicate and discover
- A collective evaluation plan identifying cross-program impact.
Theory of Change
Our theory of change is an evolving and iterative tool – With initial goals of reducing isolation for family caregivers and seniors, this tool has evolved into a working document to capture the benefits of the programs for the caregivers and their family members. This is evidenced in our exploration of collective impact across the three projects working cross-collaboratively in sharing information, discussing common participants and contributing to a tri-project evaluation plan. The Montreal Caregivers Collective’s continued partnership has led to an increased understanding of the user/caregiver experience, increased connections and facilitated communications between the projects.
This tri-project collective will undergo a joint impact evaluation with a qualitative methodology measuring program participation, satisfaction with the program, subjective well being, quality of life, impact of the program, support available, sense of value, connection with family and friends and community engagement.
Pam Orzeck: Montrealpamorzeck@gmail.com
1 http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-652-x/89-652-x2013001-fra.htm ↑
2 Victor, C, Scambler, S Bond J Bowling A. Being alone in later life: loneliness, social isolation and living alone. Rev Clin Gerontol 2000; 10:407-17 ↑
3 Taken from http://von.ca/caregiving/docs/VONCaregiverRiskFactorsReportFINAL.pdf10 Taken from http://von.ca/caregiving/docs/VONCaregiverRiskFactorsReportFINAL.pdf ↑
The Montreal Caregiver Collective developed the following tools to assess caregivers for risk of social isolation:
Cognitive Stimulation (directions for slide shows)
Montessori Assessment System (MAS) – (assessment and research article)
C.A.R.E. Tool – Caregivers’ Aspirations, Realities and Expectations
Caregiver Risk Screen
Functional Behaviour Assessment
Sample Assessment Report
Daily Attendance Sheet