Facilitating Social Connectedness with Seniors: The CONNECTORS Project

Social isolation is a significant public health concern in the senior population. The National Seniors Council defines social isolation as “a low quantity and quality of contact with others, [that] includes number of contacts, feeling of belonging, fulfilling relationships, engagement with others, and quality of network members”. Social isolation can lead to worsened health outcomes including an increase in falls, depression, heart attacks and strokes as well as increased healthcare costs. Current events and research strongly indicate a need for social connectedness in seniors to increase their physical and mental well-being. The Health and Wellness programs at Etobicoke Services for Seniors (ESS) are an opportunity to facilitate social connectedness; however, due to the challenges created by COVID-19, the creation of effective virtual programming requires translational research methods. The goal of our project is to work in collaboration with ESS Support Services to create virtual programming that addresses the need for social connectedness in seniors. Through our collaboration, we will incorporate the perspectives of users (seniors) and facilitators (staff), which will be essential in approaching this problem holistically.

Students:

Ms. Joanna Law

BSc

St. Michael's Hospital
Research Assistant

Ms. Rabail Siddiqui

Master of Public Health with Specialization in Epidemiology, Honours Bachelor of Science in Biology

Clinical Research Assistant at the University Health Network ,

Ms. Neerjah Skantharajah

BSc

McMaster University Digital Music Lab
Lab Manager

Ms. Carly Thrower

BSc

Capstone Supervisor:

Prof. Joseph Ferenbok

PhD
Translational Research Program, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
Revolutionary Translator, Director

Capstone Advisory Committee:

Laura Surman

Active Adult Centre of Mississauga

Program Coordinator

Jim Slotta

PhD

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Associate Professor

Alekhya Johnson

MPH

Regional Geriatric Program of Toronto

Knowledge-to-Practice Manager

Rosalee Berlin

RN

Facilitating Social Connectedness with Seniors: The CONNECTORS Project

Ms. Joanna Law

BSc

St. Michael's Hospital
Research Assistant

Ms. Rabail Siddiqui

Master of Public Health with Specialization in Epidemiology, Honours Bachelor of Science in Biology

Clinical Research Assistant at the University Health Network ,

Ms. Neerjah Skantharajah

BSc

McMaster University Digital Music Lab
Lab Manager

Ms. Carly Thrower

BSc

Social isolation is a significant public health concern in the senior population. The National Seniors Council defines social isolation as “a low quantity and quality of contact with others, [that] includes number of contacts, feeling of belonging, fulfilling relationships, engagement with others, and quality of network members”. Social isolation can lead to worsened health outcomes including an increase in falls, depression, heart attacks and strokes as well as increased healthcare costs. Current events and research strongly indicate a need for social connectedness in seniors to increase their physical and mental well-being. The Health and Wellness programs at Etobicoke Services for Seniors (ESS) are an opportunity to facilitate social connectedness; however, due to the challenges created by COVID-19, the creation of effective virtual programming requires translational research methods. The goal of our project is to work in collaboration with ESS Support Services to create virtual programming that addresses the need for social connectedness in seniors. Through our collaboration, we will incorporate the perspectives of users (seniors) and facilitators (staff), which will be essential in approaching this problem holistically.

Capstone Supervisor:

Prof. Joseph Ferenbok

PhD
Translational Research Program, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
Revolutionary Translator, Director

Capstone Advisory Committee:

Laura Surman

Active Adult Centre of Mississauga

Program Coordinator

Jim Slotta

PhD

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Associate Professor

Alekhya Johnson

MPH

Regional Geriatric Program of Toronto

Knowledge-to-Practice Manager

Rosalee Berlin

RN