The Westside Seniors Hub (WSH) is a volunteer community organization led by a senior Hub Council located in the Westside of Vancouver. Their mission is to “build a more responsive and resilient community for Seniors on Vancouver’s Westside”. WSH fosters community change through developing partnerships with local community organizations and through encouraging engagement amongst seniors in the community. Their support for partner organizations comes through sharing knowledge and information pertaining to Westside seniors’ issues and priorities, and through raising awareness about local resources, programs, and services to ensure that Westside communities are places where seniors can thrive.
WSH formed a collaborative community partnership with the Building Capacity Project’s Vancouver research team for phase one of our project called Dementia Ventures. Their focus was ensuring effective collaboration and knowledge exchange between 14 partner organizations who were planning, implementing, and evaluating new grass-roots social programming initiatives aimed at building meaningful participation by people living with dementia. They were a vital hub for the partners through those first four years and they continue to support and connect community groups throughout the Westside to date.
WSH PROJECTS Phase 1
The WSH Council place 210 awareness-building placards inside Translink buses in Metro Vancouver over the summer of 2022 thanks to an Implementation Fund grant from the Building Capacity for Meaningful Participation by People living with Dementia project.
The three different designs developed by Building Capacity Project team members Samantha Pineda Sierra and Heather Neale Furneaux feature quotes from Action Committee members with lived experience who worked on a special initiative known as The Flipping Stigma Project.
The Hub established “Soundbytes”, a social media campaign developed and designed by BCP team members Samantha Pineda Sierra and Heather Neale Furneaux that challenged the stigma associated with dementia.
This campaign, featuring both still image storyboards and reels, was shared across all WSH social media platforms.
Better Environmental Sound Transportation
The Hub also worked hard in connection with BEST (Better Environmentally Sound Transportation) coordinator Janet McIntosh to develop program models that explored van-sharing and public transportation challenges and solutions for seniors.
The North West Dementia Working Group (NWDWG) is an advocacy group for people living with dementia that formed in 2014 and is made up of people living with dementia and care partners. The grassroots group is independent but supported and facilitated by the Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health at Lakehead University. The mission of the NWDWG is to be a voice for people living with dementia. Their vision is to ensure that people living with dementia are treated with respect and dignity and afforded their human rights. The NWDWG challenges stigma and promotes awareness and education that includes the voices of people living with dementia.
Over the years, the NWDWG has been involved in various policy and educational initiatives such as the development of the provincial dementia strategy, and public presentations to nursing students. In September 2019, they hosted the “Living Well with Dementia: Creating Dialogues of Hope” conference with over 100 participants.
They joined the Building Capacity Project in 2020, offering invaluable insights and perspective all along the way. Key members of their group have now joined the Building Capacity Project’s Community Advisory Committee (“CAT”) for Phase Two of the project and will be heavily involved in the development of our Action Guide.
KNH was a community partner in phase one of the project and is equally committed to phase two. They hosted an intern from the Netherlands in 2022 named Iris Brouwer who organized an intergenerational storytelling event that was a huge success. It was an “everyone welcome” event geared at kids featuring author Fiona Tinwei Lam who read her book “Rainbow Rocket” and spoke about themes of memory loss in an age-appropriate way. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
KNH PROJECTS phase 1
DIVING DEEP DEMENTIA DIALOGUES SERIES
The project consisted in small group discussions to gain insight on public perception and attitudes and gather feedback on how to apply the learning from this Dementia awareness and training in the context of their neighbourhood.
DEMENTIA CONNECTIONS BUDDY PROGRAM
The program paired a trained volunteer with an individual living with dementia as a constant and consistent companion offering support and contributing to the creation of a safe space for the person living with dementia.
This program engaged the Business Improvement Areas (BIA) in dialogue and brainstorming around what safe spaces could look like at their locations, helping make the broader Kitsilano community more dementia friendly.
The Kitsilano Community Centre Association Board works in conjunction with the Parks Board to oversee programming at the Centre. Most recently, they’ve developed a Community Needs Assessment Group that looks at how best to serve the neighbourhood, including people with dementia and care partners.
West Point Grey United Church got involved with The Building Capacity Project near the end of Phase One, hosting a series of workshops on brain health and memory loss in both English and Mandarin for their bi-cultural congregation, as well as organizing several Dementia Ventures training sessions using the Flipping Stigma Toolkit as a jumping off point. They have come on board as an official community partner in phase two of the project and will be working closely with our Community Research Coordinator and the rest of the BCP team to grow their dementia inclusive programming going forward. They hope to incorporate support groups and continuous dementia training into their community.
Congregation members at Pacific Spirit United Church worked as a committee to create an insightful four-part series looking at dementia from a community perspective. It’s called Beacon *shining light on Dementia, and it is available online. One of their team members, Sabina Harpe, attended our project celebration in March 2023 to share some of the other initiatives they had developed including an additional online series focused on growing old (Beacon *shining light on growing old), “Books and Bistro,” a unique book club open to members of their community, and a special book collection in the church library focused on aging.
ASK Friendship Centre was a community partner in phase one of the project and is committed to continuing the work in phase two. This adult day centre plans to expand cultural connections, recruit more volunteers, increase creative programming offerings and carry on with their van rental program.
The Dunbar Residents Association piloted several dementia-focused initiatives during phase one of the project, including a gardening workshop series, a project known as The Fireweed Club on which they collaborated with South Granville Seniors Centre, and Kits Neighbourhood House), and a neighbourhood asset mapping project that laid out where parks and park benches in the area were located to encourage seniors to get out safely for walks and visits during COVID lock downs. They plan to pick up where they left off for phase two, increase capacity through recruitment of people with lived experience and other volunteers, and shift the conversation about dementia to more of a community focus, reducing stigma in the process.
South Granville Seniors Centre has taken on several programs and initiatives to help create safe spaces and social engagement for people living with dementia. Their most notable one is the Happy Memories Café. This is a space where both people with dementia and their loved ones can meet to socialize, learn, and have fun together. The program activities evolve based on the ongoing feedback of participating members, and may include expert engagement, group discussions, music, poetry, and the arts. Everybody is welcome to participate and South Granville Seniors Centre hopes to be able to offer a Spanish speaking group. SGSC was a community partner in phase one and they are eagerly continuing into phase two!