Making good seniors’ programs great

Seniors talking in sign language

Active. Independent. Engaged. That’s how most of us want to live our lives, but for seniors with hearing loss it can be challenging.

Anyone who has experienced a family member or friend with this impairment, especially in a social setting like a family gathering, knows just how isolating it can be. So, it’s no surprise that deaf and hard of hearing seniors are reluctant to attend programs in noisy community centres. Lack of accessible communications can lead to feeling alone in a crowd. This problem could become more common as B.C.’s population ages.

Proving and improving programs

The Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (WIDHH) provides a unique seniors outreach program to address this by offering companionship and travel assistance with daily activities for 41 deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind seniors. And it’s made a big difference in these seniors’ lives.

“[I] became a person that friends can go to for help,” one senior says. “Communicating with others and getting other seniors out of the house was important for their health.”

These findings were among the results coming out of Project Impact Healthy Aging, which increases non-profit organizations’ ability to prove and improve their work in community through focused work on how they develop and evaluate their programs.

WIDHH Team at Project Impact event

WIDHH Team, Interim Executive Director Grace Shyng, Better at Home program coordinator Tammy Gray and Research Coordinator Brenda Poon prepare to present at Project Impact Showcase.

“Findings from the evaluations are going to improve how programs are offered in ways that significantly enhance seniors’ lives. Uptake of WIDHH’s recommendations, for example, will result in better acoustics so more older adults are able to hear and participate,” says Dr. Bev Pitman, Senior Regional Community Developer at United Way’s Population Health.

Project Impact Healthy Aging

Over 70 guests attended the Project Impact Healthy Aging event showcasing the work of WIDHH and nine other B.C. programs aimed at helping seniors held June 6 at Vancouver Community College.

Along with the Project Impact event, Healthy Aging by United Way celebrated B.C. Seniors Week, June 1-8, by profiling seniors and programs whose lives have been changed thanks to provincial Community-Based Seniors’ Services sector initiatives that support healthy and happy aging.

Seniors and program staff share information

Seniors and program staff from across BC share their findings.

“Collectively, older people, their families, friends and caregivers, along with volunteers, community-based organizations, funders, academia and government at all levels work together to be responsive to the needs of older British Columbians and to ensure that the programs and services offered are impactful, relevant, and sustainable,” says Kahir Lalji, Director, Population Health at United Way.

Here are just a few of our partner initiatives.

Mrs. Li showing Chanel Ly of the Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice a Qi gong move. In Chinese culture,…

Posted by United Way of the Lower Mainland on Wednesday, June 5, 2019


These West Kelowna seniors are fitter and happier thanks to Walk ‘N Talk program, one of 28 Active Aging programs…

Posted by United Way of the Lower Mainland on Tuesday, June 4, 2019


Glaucoma and sciatica make daily life difficult for Ardina. Enter volunteer driver, Denise, who takes her shopping and…

Posted by United Way of the Lower Mainland on Monday, June 3, 2019


Project Impact Healthy Aging is offered by Dr. Steve Patty of Dialogues in Action and funded by B.C.’s Ministry of Health.