Why RAISE THE PROFILE?

In B.C., seniors made up 16.4% of the population in 2013, and an estimated 24 to 27% of the population will be seniors by 2038 (Statistics Canada, 2015). Most seniors want to live in their own home and community and ‘age in place’ (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2008). Both the Office of the Seniors Advocate and B.C. Ministry of Health have recognized that allowing seniors to age in place is the preferred option for most seniors and an important policy goal for government.

Community-based seniors’ services play a critical role in supporting seniors to age in place by providing a broad range of services that support seniors to remain physically active, socially engaged, and as healthy and independent as possible. There is strong evidence that shows that physical activity, good nutrition and social support lead to positive health outcomes for seniors. There is also evidence suggesting that these services can help to delay institutionalization, reduce hospitalization, and decrease healthcare costs. (See our report Raising the Profile of the Community-Based Seniors’ Services Sector in B.C.: A Review of the Literature for a review of this research).

Due to the aging population and government policies which promote aging in place, it is anticipated that increasing demands will be placed on community-based seniors’ services in the coming years. Yet, recent funding cuts and the lack of recognition of the vital role played by these services presents a challenge to the ability of the sector to meet the needs of our aging population.

The community-based seniors’ services sector remains fragmented, and provision of these services is uneven across the province. There is a need for greater support and recognition of the role of community-based seniors’ services in promoting health and fostering resilience in seniors.

In order to begin to raise the profile of the community-based seniors’ services sector and make the case for investment into the sector, first we need information in order to fully understand the sector. There has been very little research conducted on community-based seniors’ services, with the majority of research focusing on senior centres in the U.S.

The research activities of the Raising the Profile Project are being conducted with the aim of expanding our knowledge of the community-based seniors’ services sector in B.C. There is also the need to build the capacity of this sector, and this is another key component of the work of the Raising the Profile Project.