Sam first came to Sage because he was having financial difficulties and facing eviction: Sam is a cancer survivor with heart problems, diabetes, and COPD, and a new prescription increased his out of pocket medication expenses to $150.00 a month. This caused him to fall behind on his rent, and while he had managed to pay the overdue amount, he was still being taken to court by his landlord on a different complaint. Sam was confident about his court hearing, and it did go well – the issue was addressed and a plan for moving forward was established. However, Sam still received an eviction notice for the next month, and the landlord would not comment or cooperate when consulted.
To continue reading Sam's story, click here.
What do an LGBQT+ support group, Scrabble, and a denturist have in common? Jeff Bovee. Jeff is the founder and volunteer leader of Sage’s Over the Rainbow group for LGBQT+ seniors. You can also find him playing a surprisingly rowdy game of Scrabble there every week. In 2018, he was one of the first people to consult with a Nurse Practitioner in Sage’s Health Services program.
To continue reading Jeff's story, click here.
Peng came in to see a Sage Social Worker due to issues with accessing transportation. The Social Worker became concerned for her health and took her upstairs to see a Nurse Practitioner. An assessment revealed poorly controlled diabetes, open foot wounds, bed bugs, and a likely hoarding disorder, as well as various issues with other social determinants of health.
To continue reading Peng's story, click here.
Abdi, a woman from east Africa, was identified as needing assistance by one of our partners, the Multicultural Health Brokers. Abdi had immigrated from Africa with her son, who had then been deported due to criminal activity.
To continue reading Abdi's story, click here.
Launch of Innovative Healthcare Service for Seniors
In 2010, the Government of Alberta published a Profile of Alberta Seniors, wherein 47% of seniors reported a health-related condition or problem that limits their everyday activities. More than a third of these seniors indicated that their disability was severe or very severe. That same year, Sage began work on a comprehensive feasibility study for a new model of primary health care that blends social services, health services, and housing information in a meaningful way to meet the needs of community-based seniors. What we heard during our research is that system navigation challenges, isolation, issues with transportation, caregiver strain, and language, cultural, and income barriers can prevent seniors from accessing the care they need to age well in their chosen communities.
In 2018, we took a huge step toward overcoming those challenges by introducing Health Services at Sage.
Health Services at Sage are offered through a unique partnership with the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Nursing, and support interprofessional healthcare collaboration, student engagement, capacity building, and evaluation for improving seniors’ health and wellness outcomes. Nurse Practitioners provide clinical services at Sage, and work with our broader team to provide wraparound supports that address the numerous risk factors that seniors experience.
At Sage, seniors have a place where they can discuss the full scope of their health challenges, learn more about managing their own health, and have their needs addressed holistically. Patients have the opportunity to ask our Nurse Practitioners all of their health-related questions, even if it takes a bit longer – there is no need to limit their questions to one issue per appointment. Because health is about the whole person at Sage, when our patients use our health services program, we can also help them with non-medical related issues like housing and financial concerns or connecting them to social supports and opportunities to meet new people and get involved in the Sage community. Instead of referring our patients to an outside organization to help with something that may not be a clinical or physical health related concern, our staff can simply walk down the hall to consult with a colleague.
What kind of clinical health services are available?
Health Services at Sage are person-centred and based on an integrated, primary care focus. All of the same services that you would receive at a medical centre are available, such as:
- Annual check-ups
- Health assessments
- Treatment for chronic and acute illness
- Prescriptions and refills
- Diabetes and respiratory health programs
- Urgent care
- Referrals to specialists
For more information on Health Services at Sage, click here.
Breaking Barriers Through Song: SING! Intercultural Choir
We know that immigrant, refugee, and newcomer seniors in Edmonton face increased risk of vulnerability due to systemic, cultural, and language barriers, and that there is a corresponding need to expand the programming and services that facilitate intercultural learning, social connections, and community engagement among this population.
In 2017, Sage piloted a new, facilitated intercultural chorus for immigrant, refugee, and newcomer seniors to practice authentic English skills and make social connections with other seniors, through the sharing and singing of cross-cultural folk music.
The need for this chorus was identified by one of our English as an Additional Language (EAL) instructors, who started incorporating music into her EAL classes with seniors. In addition to using English songs for language learning, she observed how being able to share their own cultural songs improved newcomer seniors’ confidence, and helped bridge language barriers between newcomer and other seniors.
In 2018, with funding from the Edmonton Community Foundation, we were able to offer an intercultural chorus that fostered a sense of welcome, community, and common ground among diverse seniors. The chorus was free, promoted to all seniors (not only those learning English), and formally incorporated relationship-building and socialization time. The chorus provided a barrier-free opportunity for diverse seniors from both newcomer and mainstream communities to learn from one another and develop non-formal communities of support beyond agency walls. Participants have made new friends, improved their English language skills, and become more involved in other community programs.
The demand for and success of the SING! Intercultural Choir inspired us to revisit our approach to all of our music programming, and in 2018 we applied for funding to support a music program that builds social connection, fosters a sense of belonging, and encourages personal growth and development for seniors. The program includes the intercultural choir, group ukulele lessons, and our longstanding Sage Singers choir (which began in 1981!). Music programming at Sage now explicitly provides low-barrier opportunities for seniors from both newcomer and mainstream communities to learn from one another and develop non-formal communities of support.
Employment Brokering for Newcomer Seniors
Employment Brokering for Newcomer Seniors helps newcomer seniors enhance their work search skills, develop workforce connections, and secure customized employment opportunities that are responsive to their unique abilities and contexts. The project is delivered collaboratively by the Multicultural Health Brokers Co-operative, Gateway Association, and Sage. The Employment Broker works closely with all three organizations to offer individual employment discovery and job carving support for newcomer seniors, and cross-cultural education and bridging between newcomer seniors and employers.
Introduction of the Truth and Reconciliation Category at the 12th Annual Sage Awards
Without action, there is no reconciliation. Now, more than ever, Canadians are called to make tangible actions toward recognizing the truth and reconciliation process with Canada’s Indigenous peoples.
On May 8, 2018, the Sage Awards, presented by Servus Credit Union, celebrated the invaluable contributions of seniors and highlighted how they truly enriched our communities and lives.
Among Award Recipients in 2018, local pastor, trailblazer, and community champion Reverend Rick Chapman received the Sage Award for his outstanding contributions to Truth and Reconciliation in our province.
Since his sixtieth birthday, Reverend Rick Chapman has advanced the Truth and Reconciliation process at the Inner City Pastoral Ministry (ICPM). 50% of the congregation at ICPM are Indigenous, and most have attended residential schools themselves or are intergenerational survivors, generating an unwavering need to create a safe space for reconciliation and healing
Reverend Rick Chapman’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation process includes his leadership in developing a series of reconciliation events held in 2017. He was also instrumental in involving the Indigenous community in his ministry by developing the position of an Oskapewis, Cree for “helper”, to engage specifically with the Indigenous community, and in Truth and Reconciliation efforts with the non-Indigenous community.
In addition to Reverend Rick Chapman, this year’s Sage Award Recipients include Kevan Lyons, “The Poet of Churchill Square”, who has inspired countless children through his commitment to literacy by regular public appearances at City Hall School and classrooms throughout Edmonton; and Jeanne Murray, who at seventy-seven, dedicated over 1,000 hours of her time to oversee the renovation of the community building at South Clareview Community League.
To view the complete list of 2018 Sage Award Nominees and Recipients, click here.
To view photos from the event, click here.
Community-based Educational Events
Sage, along with a committee of senior-serving organizations and partners, coordinated two annual community-based educational events in the Edmonton region: the Seniors’ Housing Forum and the Seniors’ Health and Wellness Forum.
Seniors' Housing Forum
The Seniors’ Housing Forum offered a wide range of information and resources for older adults who want to stay well in their existing homes, or better understand the seniors’ housing options available to them. Information sessions relevant to aging in the right place were presented, featuring a wide range of topics, such as financial literacy, caregiver support, practical resources that allow seniors to access support in the community, home modifications, and alternative housing options like home sharing. Over 700 seniors, caregivers, and family members attended this one day event.
Seniors' Health and Wellness Forum
For the past three years, Sage has worked with Age Friendly Edmonton to host the Seniors Health and Wellness Forum – a free, daylong event where seniors, families, caregivers, and senior-serving professionals can obtain free, high-quality information and resources related to seniors’ health, wellbeing, and social supports. In 2018, the Forum featured nine presentations and panel discussions on a wide range of health and wellness topics, including sessions on transportation, caregiving, polypharmacy, financial literacy, and ageism. The Forum also hosted an exhibitor trade show with 51 organizations and businesses providing seniors’ information and resources.
Nurse Practitioners from the Sage Health Services clinical team facilitated sessions on home exercise and polypharmacy. These sessions were both well-received, with 35% of attendees choosing Improving Physical Capacity with Home Exercise as their favourite session, and 14% of attendees choosing Polypharmacy for Seniors as their favourite session.
Volunteer Appreciation: Celebrating 30 Years of Dedicated Service
Volunteers are the heart of Sage and touch every area of the work that we do, and the pride and ownership they take in their work is vital to our success. Every year, volunteers are recognized for their support and dedication through two Volunteer Appreciation events.
After almost 30 years of dedicated volunteer service at Sage, Marge Lilley announced her retirement at the Winter Volunteer Appreciation Event. Marge, who is 95 years old, has been part of Sage since 1989 (which was then the Society for the Retired and Semi-Retired). Over the last 30 years, Marge has volunteered with Sage in a variety of roles, including:
- Secretary for Happy Travelers Group.
- Secretary for Retirement Registry which became Home Services.
- Member of the Nominating Committee for the Board of Directors.
- Sage Singers Choir Director and pianist.
- Various other volunteer roles over the past 30 years.
The staff, Board of Directors, and volunteers of Sage would like to thank Marge Lilley for her years of dedicated service.
We will miss you, Marge!
Senate Sesquicentennial Medal Awarded to Sage Volunteers
Sage Volunteers were awarded the Senate Sesquicentennial Medal in 2018. The medals are presented to Canadians actively involved in their communities who, through generosity, dedication, volunteerism and hard work, make their hometowns, communities, regions, provinces or territories a better place to live.
The medal was presented to the Sage Volunteers by the Honourable Senator Grant Mitchell, and accepted on behalf of the Sage Volunteers by Lorraine Savary and Val Chymko.
Men’s Sheds: Men Building Community and Supports, Shoulder to Shoulder
Amanda Harriman-Gojtan, Sage Community Navigator, and Punch Jackson, Men’s Sheds Association of Edmonton Advocate and Volunteer, were the end keynote speakers at the 2018 Grey Matters Conference. They presented on Men's Sheds to seniors' service professionals from across Alberta.
Men’s Sheds help the mental health of men of all ages by providing a healthy environment for them to build new relationships, share skills, and socialize.
Men’s Sheds are a member driven, bottom-up movement that provides an opportunity for men to have an outlet to share their gifts, whatever that looks like to them, and to share what’s on their minds.
An organization was created to assist with the initiative; the Men’s Shed Association of Edmonton (MSAE), a registered non-profit that will act as the formal organization of all Edmonton Sheds to assist with promotion, recruitment, training, and funding.
As of 2018, Sage Community Navigator's helped to facilitate the creation of 5 Men's Sheds across Edmonton to support healthy connections for men:
- Beacon Heights Men’s Shed
- Pehonan Elders Men’s Shed
- Downtown Men’s Shed
- South East Men’s Shed
- Twin Brooks Men’s Shed
To view a segment by CTV News about Edmonton's Men's Sheds, click here.
Sage Wins “Best in Public Service” for the Fourth Annual Best in the Core Awards
Sage won “Best in Public Service” for downtown Edmonton in The Yards Magazine as part of their Best in the Core Awards!
We work hard with many community partners to help seniors live their best lives possible.
Ageing to Sageing: Citizen-led Community Development
Ageing to Sageing (A2S) is a community development-based approach to helping neighbours support one another. This program leverages the strengths of seniors to positively impact the poverty agenda by nurturing relationships between older people, schools, other agencies, and families and children in Edmonton. It taps into seniors as a powerful resource in helping people to see their own worthiness, and demonstrates a practical process to mobilize collective action in complex neighbourhoods. The program employs Community Animators who host processes, make connections to larger systems, and find resources to support self-organization.
The approach employed by A2S frames community engagement as “a strategic conversation with the ‘community’ to facilitate learning, change, and commitment” (Community Engagement: A Process of Learning and Change, Critical Questions for a Successful Engagement Outcome).
It is citizen-led community development that has three significant implications:
- It de-centres the agency as the knowledge- and resource- holder in favour of community-led initiatives;
- It requires that knowledge be mobilized and internalized in meaningful ways, so that community members can take ownership and create a movement to transform their communities; and
- It moves away from the concept of the “volunteer” who contributes to their community, and embraces the power of engaged citizens who build it.
The fundamental premise of the A2S project is that engaging seniors as community builders at the neighbourhood level will increase the overall wellbeing of the community as a whole. Through this program, our Community Animators are able to map the strengths and needs of seniors in the community, nurture long-term collaborative relationships with key organizations and stakeholders, host generative community conversations on what seniors would like to see happen in their neighbourhood, and then support those burgeoning initiatives in practical ways.
Supporting Neighbourhood Initiatives
In 2016, Sage received funding from Age Friendly Edmonton (AFE) to support the senior-led initiatives our Community Animators are fostering at the neighbourhood level. The funding is used in two ways:
- To create spaces for seniors to engage in very practical and important ways (simply being able to bring people together to make and share meals, for example, can provide important glue to the burgeoning relationships that will lead to long-term, neighbourhood level change) and;
- To provide micro-grants ( up to 1,000.00) to seniors who, having identified a project, need a bit of seed money to get it started.
In 2018, our Community Animators facilitated micro-grants for the women of Al Rashid Mosque, seniors working with students at Abbott School, the South Clareview Seniors Hub, the Edmonton Aboriginal Seniors Centre, the Somali (Senior and Youth) Women’s group, the Iraqi Women’s group crafting night series, the Fraser Community League Seniors Breakfast, the C5 Hub Seniors Corner Family Fun event, and the Intergenerational Kindness Project.
The terms of this funding ends in March 2019, and we are currently sourcing alternate means of continuing to support this work.
To learn more about Ageing to Sageing, click here to read the booklet created by Age Friendly Edmonton.
Reducing Social Isolation of Seniors
Through our work with the Pan-Edmonton Group Addressing Social Isolation of Seniors (PEGASIS), we continue to provide support and opportunities for seniors who are, or who may become, isolated, disadvantaged, or at-risk in the community.
Sage supports active and healthy aging in the community, and a deep understanding of the connections between physical and mental health, and social and emotional wellbeing guides our programming in this area. We employ a holistic case management model to ensure that all the needs of seniors and their families are being met. Social work staff provide assistance, information, and support on-site to seniors accessing our services, help connect them to resources at Sage and in the broader community, and assist them with navigation of difficult systems.
The introduction of a new Primary Health Care service at Sage has allowed the PEGASIS team to work hand in hand with onsite health care practitioners to address the health care issues that may be contributing to social isolation of the individuals we serve. Working with the Health Services program, Sage introduced Specialized Outreach that will not only assist low-resourced seniors in accessing social supports, but will also assist with health services navigation. Sage is a member of a collective that provides Drop-In Single Session Counselling at no cost to individuals who need access to immediate mental health supports in our building. This program has been modified to allow for ongoing mental health counselling services, in addition to single session counselling, when needed. This resource helps to address the mental health issues that may be leading to social isolation of low-resourced seniors.
As part of the organization’s continued efforts to reduce social isolation, Sage’s Community Navigators locate and support vulnerable seniors who are experiencing or are at risk of experiencing isolation. Community Navigators provide outreach and follow-up services addressing the social and emotional needs of older adults through assessment, support, connecting to resources, advocacy, system navigation, identification of system gaps and engaging community to fill those gaps.
Through these increased efforts, Sage has experienced a noticeable increase in Housing and Assessment participants, with nearly 700 referrals to the program (excluding self-referrals).