Connection in Action Overview
Connection in Action aims to prevent and reduce social isolation and increase social connections for adults aged 55 and older by raising awareness about:
- older adult isolation;
- opportunities to increase social connections;
- identifying risk factors and protective measures;
- how to access resources and supports.
Connection in Action has two main components:
- directly supporting older adults through our Connection Specialist
- supporting communities across Halton through our LITE Education
1. Older Adults (55+)
Connecting Halton’s older adults with services and programs to boost social connectedness.
2. Halton Communities
Capacity-building education for community groups, service providers, and businesses.
Our Connection Specialist works one-on-one with older adults aged 55 and older. We provide information and connect older adults to services and programs that support a sense of belonging.
This initiative also supports communities across Halton by increasing awareness of issues impacting older adults. Through our LITE Education, we provide organizations, businesses, and community groups with tools and resources to better support older adults as clients, customers, and community members.
Our Community Engagement Lead guides our engagement and awareness strategy. We recognize that establishing Connection in Action as a resource for older adults is valuable when older adults and service providers are aware of our services. Our Community Engagement Lead engages with older adults, service providers, and community stakeholders through focus groups, surveys, community presentations, and other outreach strategies to:
- raise awareness about our initiative;
- build relationships with and learn from communities across Halton;
- develop our informational and marketing materials;
- inform and support our outreach strategies.
Our engagement and awareness strategies prioritize accessibility and appreciates the diversity of Halton’s older adult population.
Goals of Connection in Action
The goal of Connection in Action is to reduce social isolation and increase social connectedness among adults aged 55 and older who live in Halton. Reducing social isolation in older adults was identified as a key priority through community consultations held in 2016 by Halton’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan.
This initiative is offered through a partnership between Community Development Halton and Links2Care. Connection in Action is advised by Halton’s Older Adult Isolation Action Table and is supported by Halton’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan.
Why is the focus on older adults 55+, rather than 65+?
Reaching out to older adults 55+ is a proactive and preventive approach to social isolation. Research suggests that the risk factors of social isolation and loneliness increase as people age, making them more vulnerable to negative health outcomes. By encouraging and engaging older adults at a younger age to be socially connected and participate in community life, it can significantly improve their overall well-being, while helping them thrive in their later years.
Connection in Action is funded by the Halton Region Community Investment Fund and is committed to the following:
|Connection Specialist||Directly supporting Halton’s older adult population through our Connection Specialist.|
|LITE Education||Providing Loneliness, Isolation to Empowerment (LITE) education and capacity building for service providers and businesses to better support older adults.|
|Senior Connectors||Sharing information and resources to the community through the Senior Connector volunteer program organized by Community Development Halton.|
|Community Feedback||Increasing our capacity in addressing older adult social isolation in meaningful ways by hearing from older adults and stakeholders in Halton.|
|Community Awareness||Broadening the community’s understanding of the impacts of isolation and loneliness to the health and well-being of older adults through a community awareness campaign.|
History of Connection in Action
Connection in Action was established in March of 2020, just before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The pandemic impacted all of us in countless ways. Specifically for the older adult population in Canada, reports of loneliness increased by 67% from 2015 to 2020 for women aged 65 to 74, and by 37% for women aged 75 to 84. Reports of loneliness also increased for men aged 65 to 74 by 45%, and by 33% for those aged 75 to 84. (Source: Social Isolation Among Older Adults During the Pandemic) Connection in Action’s goal to increase social connectedness for older adults has become increasingly more important.
We acknowledge that everyone’s needs are not the same. Older adults are a group of individuals, each with their own intersecting identities and circumstances. Some intersections can make certain groups vulnerable to experiencing a lack of social connectedness.
Older adults who belonged to any of the following sub-populations are more vulnerable to experiencing social isolation, which increased as a result of the pandemic, as identified by the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Forum of Ministers Responsible for Seniors: (Source: Social Isolation Among Older Adults During the Pandemic)
- rural, remote, and Northern communities;
- 2SLGBTQ+ (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer);
- racialized and immigrant older adults;
- Indigenous peoples;
- people living with dementia;
- and low-income older adults.
Halton’s Older Adult Isolation Action Table
The Older Adult Isolation Action Table was established in 2018. This Action Table brings together over 20 cross-sector partners and older adults to work towards increasing social connections for older adults. This led to the creation of the Connection in Action initiative in 2020.
With a primary focus on system navigation and community mobilization, the Older Adult Isolation Action Table key objectives are:
- Reduce isolation among older adults aged 55 and older.
- Support older adults at-risk of isolation through proactive approaches that prevent the likelihood of becoming isolated in the first place.
- Identify and understand the local root social causes and system issues that contribute to isolation among older adults in the community.
- Enhance the community’s understanding of the scope and nature of older adult isolation in Halton through the Loneliness, Isolation to Empowerment (LITE) Education to build the community’s capacity to identify, reach and connect with older adults.
- Further develop partnerships among all Action Table organizations and service providers.
Halton’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan
The Older Adult Isolation Action Table is part of Halton’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan. The Plan was developed in partnership between Halton Region and the Halton Regional Police Service as part of a shared commitment to be the safest and healthiest region in Canada.
Halton’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan was introduced in 2017 and sets out how the Region works with community partners to improve the safety, health and well-being of Halton residents. Increasing social connections among older adults is one priority area within the Plan.