In 2016, the Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council (ESCC) along with six partner organizations working to address social isolation of seniors embarked on what was to become a four-year journey learning about collaboration and collective impact initiatives that aim to support older adults. P·E·G·A·S·I·S evolved over three years, and received additional funding in 2019 for the Connecting Edmonton Seniors (CES) Extension. Out of the lessons of P·E·G·A·S·I·S and the CES Extension grew the multi-sector initiative that has come to be known as the Stewardship Round Table, or SRT for short.
The SRT invites all stakeholders – individuals and organizations that support older adults to age well through programs and services, and those who are impacted by those supports, namely older adults and their families, friends, and caregivers and care partners – to come together on a regular basis to be the catalysts and drivers of change that will contribute to making Edmonton an age-friendly city.
The SRT is a multi-disciplinary, multi-sector network of people from community-based organizations, businesses and commercial enterprises, governments and government agencies, primary care networks, and academic institutions. They recognize that the social and systemic challenges faced by older adults must be addressed collectively with the exchange of ideas and commitments to work together to tackle the issues and concerns that impact us all.
This may sound like an impossible undertaking, similar to trying to drain the ocean, but if we consider that we are already working in our own ways – delivering goods and services, building things, and supporting people to meet their social and health needs from day to day, we realize that we are already well on our way to addressing the barriers to healthy aging for everybody. One of our biggest challenges is figuring out how we can find the time to share the knowledge, experience, and ideas we have, and learn about the issues and challenges that others are dealing with. The SRT helps us to do that.
Participants at the Stewardship Round Table have been sharing concerns about a range of challenges and barriers to healthy aging, and working to identify the areas, levels, or domains within which they could best be addressed. For example, some challenges such as ageism, racism, and poverty are social and systemic issues that require sustained collective action, but there are activities that can be taken on at local, community, or organizational levels to address some of these challenges and barriers. The SRT provides an opportunity to look strategically across the breadth of our world – society, systems, communities, and organizations – to align efforts and help people with varying interests and capacities to see themselves fitting into the big picture in ways that are meaningful to them. Participants at the SRT are working proactively to initiate systemic changes that will lead to healthier communities and better social and health outcomes for older adults.
The Stewardship Round Table has had a significant influence on the emerging development of a framework to support the coordination of services for older adults which will transform the thinking and realization of healthy aging across Edmonton. This framework will be multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary, and will draw stakeholders together as allies, collaborators, and partners to meet the social determinants of healthy aging. The SRT celebrates the strengths of individuals and organizations and looks for ways to build capacity and resilience, and sustainable action, and these will be the foundation on which the framework is built.
The next meeting of the Stewardship Round Table is scheduled for Wednesday, March 10th starting at 9:00. Drawing on interviews, surveys, workshops and stakeholder engagement sessions, the Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council will present a roadmap for the development of the Framework to Support the Coordination of Services for Older Adults that will be driven by stakeholders, supported by ESCC staff. It is important that stakeholders find ways to engage in the process, whether through organizational leadership or supporting the establishment of effective partnerships and collaborations to support older adults by sharing details about their own challenges and opportunities, requirements and resources. Working together, we will be able to avoid having change imposed on our organizations and communities and we can facilitate equity of access and opportunity to resources that address health and social determinants for older adults to enable aging in community of a better, healthier future.