Purpose: The provision of home and community supports can enable people to successfully age-in-place by improving physical and mental health, supporting social participation and enhancing independence, autonomy and choice. One challenge concerns the integration of place-based supports available as older people transition into affordable housing. Sustainable solutions need to be developed and implemented with the full involvement of communities, service organizations and older people themselves. Partnership building is an important component of this process. The purpose of this paper is to detail the intricacies of developing partnerships with low-income older people, local service providers and nonprofit housing associations in the context of a Canadian housing development.
Design/methodology/approach: A community-based participatory approach was used to inform the data collection and partnership building process. The partnership building process progressed through a series of democratized committee meetings based on the principles of appreciative inquiry, four collaboration cafés with nonprofit housing providers and four community mapping workshops with low-income older people. Data collection also involved 25 interviews and 15 photovoice sessions with the housing tenants. The common aims of partnership and data collection were to understand the challenges and opportunities experienced by older people, service providers and nonprofit housing providers; identify the perspectives of service providers and nonprofit housing providers for the provision and delivery of senior-friendly services and resources; and determine actions that can be undertaken to better meet the needs of service providers and nonprofit housing providers in order to help them serve older people better.
Findings: The partnership prioritized the generation of a shared vision together with shared values, interests and the goal of co-creating meaningful housing solutions for older people transitioning into affordable housing. Input from interviews and photovoice sessions with older people provided material to inform decision making in support of ageing well in the right place. Attention to issues of power dynamics and knowledge generation and feedback mechanisms enable all fields of expertise to be taken into account, including the experiential expertise of older residents. This resulted in functional, physical, psychological and social aspects of ageing in place to inform the new build housing complex.
It is vital that when communicating with an older person that they are supported to have their voice heard and their choices understood. Older people should be reassured that their autonomy and ability to self-determine life choices will not be undermined unnecessarily, especially when other disabilities may be involved. Avoid asking others, even those close to them about what they want, unless a person clearly wants someone else to speak on their behalf, or are unable to communicate their preferences.
With a steady increase in population aging, the proportion of older people living with mental illness is on rise. This has a significant impact on their autonomy, rights, quality of life and functionality. The biomedical approach to mental healthcare has undergone a paradigm shift over the recent years to become more inclusive and rights-based.
Dignity comprises of independence, social inclusion, justice, equality, respect and recognition of one’s identity. It has both subjective and objective components and influences life-satisfaction, treatment response as well as compliance. The multi-dimensional framework of dignity forms the central anchor to person-centered mental healthcare for older adults. Mental health professionals are uniquely positioned to incorporate the strategies to promote dignity in their clinical care and research as well as advocate for related social/health policies based on a human rights approach. However, notwithstanding the growing body of research on the neurobiology of aging and old age mental health disorders, dignity-based mental healthcare is considered to be an abstract and hypothetical identity, often neglected in clinical practice. In this paper, we highlight the various components of dignity in older people, the impact of ageism and mental health interventions based on dignity, rights, respect, and equality (including dignity therapy). It hopes to serve as a framework for clinicians to incorporate dignity as a principle in mental health service delivery and research related to older people.
Putting people first: Being able to take charge of one’s own health and wellbeing is an important component of good physical and mental wellbeing. An absence of self-agency, as well as scepticism about recovery from poor mental health for older people, can negatively impact on their outcomes. Similarly, a lack of recognition of the unique care needs and concerns of older people and those of their carers represent important opportunities to improve mental health and wellbeing outcomes.
Promoting self-agency: The participation of older people with mental illness in service planning, policy and research is critical to service success, yet their inclusion is under-developed in comparison with the participation and engagement of younger age groups.
The National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum and the National Primary Health Network Mental Health Lived Experience Engagement Network acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters on which we work and live on across Australia. We recognise their continuing connection to land, waters, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.
“A lived experience recognises the effects of ongoing negative historical impacts and or specific events on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It encompasses the cultural, spiritual, physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of the individual, family or community.
“People with lived or living experience of suicide are those who have experienced suicidal thoughts, survived a suicide attempt, cared for someone through a suicidal crisis, been bereaved by suicide or having a loved one who has died by suicide, acknowledging that this experience is significantly different and takes into consideration Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ways of understanding social and emotional wellbeing.” - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre
We welcome Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to this site and invite them to provide any feedback or items for inclusion.
We also recognise people with lived and living experience of mental ill-health and recovery and the experience of people who are carers, families, kin, or supporters.