Suggested Actions - Burlington

Members of the Burlington working group were asked to identify the three most important issues in their community and suggest actions to make their
community more age-friendly. The following is a synopsis of their discussions as
well as age-friendly initiatives posted on the Burlington map. The actions below
may be initiated by any level of government, community group or individual.

Three Most Important Issues

1. Affordable Housing

  • Seniors need to be vocal about the need for affordable housing. The needs of the community must counterbalance the Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) group voices.
  • Encourage MPs to advocate for the pensions and supports seniors need because poverty is an issue in Burlington and some people are moving out of the community as they cannot afford to live there

2. Transportation Cost and Availability

  • Explore no cost/low cost actions that could impact cost and availability. For example: Burlington Handi-van is expanding its eligibility to include individuals with cognitive challenges.
  • Re-examine the transportation system, as it currently does not always get people where  they need to go. Consider where seniors live as well as where seniors go frequently.

3. Age-Friendly Community Support and Health Care

  • Health professionals such as social workers and nurse practitioners could help seniors navigate the health care system. There are a number of services and programs that are age-friendly: Geriatric Mental Health Outreach Program; GAITE clinic; Future Family Health Clinic.
  • Continue to improve coordination of service providers by reducing silos across the region and by pooling resources. Family Health Teams or Family Health Groups are good models of care - comprehensive and integrated.
  • Nurse practitioners who work in acute care, primary care & visit seniors’ homes can direct patients to different community services. A doctor’s office that has a “consult area” can also help to improve coordination between service providers.
  • There are many collaborative groups in the community working on age-friendly initiatives. The Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) and Joseph Brant Hospital are working on Alternative Level of Care initiatives. A palliative care resource manual is being produced by a committee formed by the CCAC, the Carpenter House Hospice, nurse practitioners, etc…Other collaborative include, Coalition for Assisted and Affordable Housing(CAASH), Poverty Free Halton, Burlington Age-Friendly Task Group.
  • Reach out more to marginalized housebound seniors. Family doctors and nurse practitioners could be doing home visits to ensure everyone has access to medical care and a family physician.
  • Improve the amount of care as well as timeliness, as there are long waits for long-term care homes, not enough home care services, and lack of addiction services like ADAPT.

Please note that the following reflects further discussions of the working group members at the forum. Any section that is not included or is incomplete indicates that the group did not discuss it in the limited time available.

Communication

  • Improve awareness and access to information so that people know what is available and how to access it. Awareness of services cuts across all three important issues identified above. 
  • Regional staff need to improve how they market services that are available to seniors, including 211/311, and the Seniors Help Line. Keep communication simple with no acronyms in brochures.
  • Utilize the Burlington’s library system and staff more fully, as they are already helpful
  • in disseminating useful information to seniors. The “Information Burlington” service is  free for everyone.
  • There are many community groups working on age-friendly initiatives in Burlington. It is recommended that one of the groups take the lead on age friendly projects and work in partnership with the other groups to explore and implement age friendly initiatives in Burlington. There also needs to be communication with existing groups i.e. the ESAC Age-Friendly work to avoid duplication of efforts. 
  • Build on the actions in the report A Community Path to an Age Friendly City as a resource for action.

Community Involvement and Outdoor Spaces 

  • Hire a Director of Community Engagement for the City of Burlington to encourage community involvement, civic engagement and improve communication of local decisions. If you want people to participate they need to feel that local government listens to them. Encourage public attendance at Regional Council meetings. City Hall is already accessible.
  • Consider how to improve efforts to reach house-bound isolated seniors. A local group is developing a tool kit to replicate a pilot project that matches volunteers with clients to combat social isolation. This will be an important resource for other organizations.
  • Enhance the senior visiting programs where possible.
  • Offer reduced rates on services for seniors. Continue to offer free/low cost life long learning opportunities at the library; adult day sites exercise classes & leaders with STEPS, and community programs for seniors (e.g. YMCA, Seniors’ Centre, Wellness House). “These programs and a great Seniors Centre encourage active seniors to remain involved in the community.”
  • Promote the beautiful downtown with its large, lovely, public waterfront areas as outdoor spaces for seniors to enjoy.
  • Continue to provide more snow removal services for seniors and rebates for snow removal.