Information, Referral & Advocacy
Information, Referral and Advocacy services foster resilience by helping individual seniors to access the government programs and community services they require to maintain their health and independence. These services help seniors, and particularly those with low incomes, to navigate resources in four main areas:
- Income benefits and supports programs, including assistance in filing tax returns and in completing other government forms
- Housing services and supports
- Health services
- Community programs and resources
In a survey conducted by the Raising the Profile Project of Better at Home Site Coordinators from across the province, Information, Referral and Advocacy programs were seen as one of the most essential programs for seniors. These programs help seniors navigate difficult bureaucratic systems and create awareness of available services and entitlements. It was noted that these services are particularly critical given challenges seniors face with the decreases in the availability of family support, in navigating complicated government bureaucracies, in understanding and proving eligibility requirements to receive income supports, and in response to the movement towards more electronic forms of communication. The survey revealed the existence of formal Information, Referral and Advocacy programs, as well as less formal work by organizations that do not have formal programs but are increasingly taking on these roles as seniors come to them when they have nowhere else to turn.
Providing the Information, Referral and Advocacy services needed to support the growing population of seniors, many of whom have complex needs, is becoming more challenging. Many service providers and seniors, who are connected with the Raising the Profile Project, have identified the need for greater coordination of resources at a provincial level and more funding for front-line staff to provide hands-on, one-on-one support locally.
The following program profiles provide examples of five different models of Information, Referral and Advocacy programs at the local level. Of note is that due to a variety of reasons (most commonly a lack of funding and resources), many of these programs focus on information and referral but are unable, or have limited ability, to engage in advocacy.
Profiles of Specific Information and Referral Programs
Program Profile: Information and Referral Services (411 Seniors Centre Society)
411 Seniors Centre Society provides in person one-to-one information and referral services and has been doing so for almost 40 years. Read the full profile here.
Program Profile: Senior Connectors (Seniors Come Share Society)
Seniors Come Share Society provides training to Senior Connectors who offer information and referral services at 10 different sites across Surrey and White Rock. Some of these services are connected with their Share and Care program to support isolated seniors. Read the full profile here.
Program Profile: Seniors Resource Centre and Info Line (Prince George Council of Seniors)
The Prince George Council of Seniors offers information and referral in-person through their Seniors Resource Centre, and by phone through their Seniors Info Line. Read the full profile here.
Program Profile: Seniors Services Program (NexusBC Community Resource Centre)
NexusBC Community Resource Centre offers a broad range of print resources to seniors and other members of the community. They also offers in-person and phone assistance. Read the full profile here.
Program Profile: Seniors Outreach Ambassador Program (Burnaby Neighbourhood House)
The Seniors Outreach Ambassador Program combines information and referral with outreach, as the Seniors Outreach Ambassadors actively seek out isolated seniors in the community to connect them with information and community resources. Read the full profile here.