New needs assessment provides a student-designed solution for seniors and social isolation

Social isolation, access to healthy food and affordable housing continue to be issues for local seniors, especially now during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Georgian is hosting two information sessions on Nov. 19 to showcase some initiatives to help address these complex social issues. 

Back in January, Georgian’s Centre for Changemaking and Social Innovation entered into a partnership with Barrie’s Office of the Mayor to tackle these issues together. Supported by funding from the Simcoe-Muskoka United Way, the Barrie HomeShare project has recently conducted a needs assessment survey to help inform new ways to mitigate social isolation during the pandemic.

Martin Rochon, Social Impact Projects Co-ordinator at the Centre for Changemaking and Social Innovation explains that while the project originally was designed to place students in seniors’ homes, it has adapted to ensure the reduction of risks associated with COVID-19. Instead, Barrie HomeShare will now offer students co-curricular volunteer opportunities designed to assist seniors in safe and meaningful ways. The new approach is based on ideas created by Georgian’sSocial Service Worker students who worked with Interactive Media Design – Web students to create an innovative dispatch system (an app) that responds to the requirements identified in the needs assessment.   

A young female sitting with an older woman on a park bench

“We’ll be matching students to seniors with spare rooms to create affordable housing when it’s safer to do so,” says Martin. “In the meantime, we’ve conducted a needs assessment survey with Barrie seniors, their caregivers, and counsellors to understand how our students can help, while also connecting Georgian students to our greater community.”

Information sessions

The two information sessions on Nov. 19 are part of Georgian’s Changemaker In Residency Week. They will be hosted by Barrie HomeShare and propose a new approach to connecting seniors to student volunteers. Interested students, seniors and community members are encouraged to register online

There will also be an opportunity to participate in the pilot starting Jan. 18, 2021. 

If you want to find out more about the project you can email Martin or call 705.728.1968, ext. 5891.

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