In 2019, the Bernard Betel Centre was approached by Siu Mee Cheng, a PhD candidate who was conducting research that would identify factors supporting a successful integration of healthcare and social services to improve the quality of life of vulnerable older adults. Her research was entitled “Collective Case Study on Healthcare and Social Services Integration for Older Adults in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta“. Siu Mee was interested in our collaborative and innovative Healthy at Home initiative that offers free recreational, health promotional, social, clinical, and educational programs to vulnerable and high-risk seniors living in the community and home-setting in the GTA. The initiative targets marginalized and vulnerable seniors living in Toronto Community Housing apartment buildings in the North York area, immigrant newcomer sponsored seniors, with specific emphasis being placed on outreach to both Russian-speaking seniors and Holocaust survivors. The initiative delivery is based on a Person-Centred, Trauma-Informed (PCTI) approach that was specifically designed for the unique needs of immigrant seniors and Holocaust survivors experiencing PTSD, anxiety, and depression, caused by the Holocaust, wars, childhood traumas, and their immigration experience.
In her dissertation findings, Siu Mee referred to our Healthy at Home program as “an excellent example of a successful culturally appropriated integrated health and social care that can be delivered through inter-organizational collaboration” and one of her recommendations was to offer a story of “how Healthy at Home has impacted health and social care outcomes – care in the community, aging in place, social isolation.”
Following Ms. Cheng’s recommendation and in partnership with her, Julia Migounova, Betel’s Director, Clinical and Community Support Services, submitted an abstract on ‘Delivering Culturally Appropriate Care Through Collaboration’ to Canadian Association on Ageing conference, as well as Global Conference on Ageing, to showcase our Healthy at Home initiative. The abstract submissions were accepted for presentation at both conferences.
In Julia’s presentation she highlighted Betel’s work before and during the pandemic. She talked about Betel’s partnership with the Toronto Community Housing and how we proactively contacted over 5,500 seniors (mostly Russian speaking) for wellness checks and provided information and referral to over 2,500 of them. She also mentioned our innovative, one-of-a-kind inspirational balcony concerts and meal program. Conference participants were also interested to learn about our successful collaboration with the North York Toronto Health Partners on vaccine roll-out. Due to the childhood trauma caused by Holocaust, war, and mistrust of any government authorities, many of Betel’s clients were vaccine hesitant at first. Our team assisted health care providers with an outreach, canvassing, registration, on-site support, and overall coordination at the Healthy at Home locations and the Bernard Betel Centre. Over 1,500 older adults were successfully vaccinated in culturally sensitive way, in their language, and at their homes or familiar surroundings.
It was a great honor for Julia to represent the Bernard Betel Centre at these conferences and to raise our organization’s profile to an international level.