LEADS - A Community-Based Partnership

February 27, 2024

LEADS: Learning, Equity, Aging, Digital for Seniors - A Community-Based Partnership

To view LEADS infographic in pdf, click HERE

Since 2018, SFU STAR Institute and 411 Seniors Centre Society in Vancouver, have partnered on numerous community-based projects with the overarching goal of supporting key priorities identified by 411, the 411 Seniors Research Working Group, and 411's members to enhance local information and referral services to better connect older adults and caregivers to the resources in their community. Community-based services provide on-the-ground localized expertise to support older adults’ quality of life, sense of social connectedness, and empowerment. 

The partnership brings together staff and researchers at STAR, staff and members at 411, and staff from the province-wide Navigation & Peer Support (NPS) initiative to identify and oversee projects, inititiatives, impact case studies, and more, that promote healthy aging in an increasingly digital world. 

411 Seniors is Provincial lead on the NPS initiative sponsored through the United Way Lower Mainland Healthy Aging Strategy. The goal of the NPS project is to establish navigation and peer support best practices through collaboration to develop strategies for enhancing information and referral services across BC. 

STAR and 411 meet often to progress partnership goals. 411 and STAR have co-supervised community-embedded researchers and practicum students with the aim of promoting the service development and academic objectives of the LEADS project and NPS initiative. STAR and 411 also collaborate on grant applications.

Learn about ongoing projects and activities


Report: In Community - Information and Referral Services for Seniors in British Columbia
Masters student, Karen Lok Yi Wong, completed her practicum at 411 Seniors in Summer 2020, resulting in a published report co-produced by STAR and 411. For more details and to read the report, click HERE.


Co-Supervision: Community-Embedded Researcher
STAR and 411 Seniors co-hired Community-Embedded Researcher, Hannah Shin, in Summer 2021 to promote the service development and academic objectives of the LEADS project and NPS initiative. 


Infographic: COVID-19 Vaccine Card Rollout
A rapid evaluation of the COVID-19 vaccine card rollout uptake among members of 411 Seniors was conducted in 2021. For more details, click HERE


Conference Paper: American Psychological Association’s Technology's (APAT) Mind & Society Conference
A LEADS team member and STAR Engagement and Education Director Dr. Mei Lan Fang presented a paper exploring the notion that technology access is a human right, illuminating intersectional, digital determinants of health to enable agency in a digitized era at the APAT Conference in 2021. Findings from the In Community report above informed the presentation. For more details, click HERE


Guest Lecture: SFU Gerontology Spring 2022 Course on Aging and Society
LEADS team members presented on Aging in the Digital World in a Spring 2022 Gerontology course at Simon Fraser University. The lecture is being used as a pilot run for the facilitation of further discussions and workshops around the notion of a 'Seniors Centre of Tomorrow'. See Seniors Centre for the Tomorrow section below. 


Knowledge Mobilization Activity: BC Summit on Aging
LEADS team members attended and hosted a booth at the BC Summit on Aging in Spring 2022. This provided an opportunity to connect with stakeholders and other organizations in the sector, and to showcase the LEADS partnership. STAR and 411 promotional materials and project reports and findings were handed out to conference attendees. The team created a poster to encourage conversations around what successful community-based participatory action research looks like and how LEADS is leading the way. To view the poster, click HERE


Program Evaluation & Report: 411 Seniors Information & Referral (I&R) Volunteer Program Best Practice
The LEADS team developed a case study to evaluate 411 Seniors' I&R volunteer program in order to improve its services and identify best practice. A report based off of the case study was developed and circulated to I&R volunteers and staff in order to implement changes to the program and highlight best practice. To view the report, click HERE.


Leadership: TELUS Affordable Internet Program for Older Adults in BC and Alberta
The TELUS Internet for Good program provides low income older adults in British Columbia and Alberta with a low-cost internet wireless service. Through advocacy work and consultations with Telus as well as building on the foundations of previous work like the above co-produced In Community report, 411 Seniors played a major role in making this program possible with STAR's support. For more details about the program, click HERE


Conference Workshop: Horizons Crisis and Social Transformation in Community-Engaged Research Conference
The LEADS team conducted a series of workshops over Spring 2022 to prepare 411 Seniors older adult members to take part in a SFU STAR - 411 Seniors hosted round-table discussion on Older Adults and the Digital Divide at the SFU Horizons 2022 Conference in May 2022. The roundtable heard from stakeholders in the community who shared real-life experiences with the digital divide, access to technology solutions as people age, and issues of digital equity and inclusion. STAR and 411 highlighted their LEADS partnership which focuses on the digital divide and supports 411 Seniors' objectives through a myriad of projects each year. 


Policy Brief: Why do Some Older Adults Have Less Access to Information and Community Technology? Causes and Policy Recommendations
With the support of 411 Seniors, SFU STAR and UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, Karen Lok Yi Wong (social worker and STAR research scholar) produced a policy brief which explores why some older adults have challenges accessing ICT and provides three policy recommendations. This brief was informed by 411 and STAR's BC study from 2019 to 2021 which explored access inequities to technology and community resources. To view the policy brief, click HERE


Paper: The Role of Community-Based Participatory Action Research
The LEADS team is working on a paper that captures learnings from the LEADS project partnership over the last few years and explores the role of community-based research within community-based agencies. Check back in 2024 for updates.


Communications Consulting: New 411 Website, Communications Infrastructure and Knowledge Mobilization Strategies
STAR Special Projects Manager Juliet Neun-Hornick (with Greenhill Communications) interviewed key 411 stakeholders including board members, staff, vounteers and members with the goal of identifying ways to improve strategic communications within the organization to better connect 411 to members and the greater community. Juliet representing STAR and with Greenhill Communications developed a communications audit report, 411’s new website www.411seniors.org, and implemented new communications strategies. Juliet representing STAR and with Greenhill Communications also develops 411's quarterly newsletter and designs their knowledge mobilization materials. 


Project: Seniors Centre of the Future - Better Connected
411 Seniors moved into its new centre on Fraser Street in East Vancouver in May 2023. Prior to the big move, members of 411's Research Working Group met with an SFU Gerontology Directed Studies class in Fall 2022 to develop 411's vision for a Seniors Centre of the Future project. From there, STAR and 411 worked on a number of grant applications one of which was successful as a 2023-24 project called Better Connected. The Better Connected project aims to address the digital divide among seniors by employing a transdisciplinary approach rooted in the principles of Community-based Participatory Research. This project brings together 411 Seniors Centre Society, a seniors community organization based in Vancouver, and researchers from SFU to collaborate on designing, constructing, and implementing programs that target the main issues contributing to the digital divide. The primary objective of the project is to gain a comprehensive understanding of how to effectively tackle the digital challenges faced by the members of 411 Seniors, with a particular emphasis on enhancing the capabilities and skills of 411 Seniors' volunteer base to support this objective. Through this understanding, the project seeks to develop practical strategies that will empower seniors to thrive and adapt in an increasingly digital world. Check back over 2024 for updates on project activities, outputs and ways to participate!


SFU STAR received funding in 2023 from AGE-WELL's Catalyst Funding Program in Healthy Aging to carry out a project on Ethical design and practices in AgeTech research. The project aims to ensure AgeTech researchers do not overlook ethical thinking and instead incorporate it in the design and development of technology from start to finish. The goal is to help inform the development of more effective and inclusive technologies to support healthy aging. Workshops throughout 2023-24 are being carried out to explore ethical design gaps and co-create guides for ethical development, implementation, access, and use of AgeTech with the goal of encouraging and supporting culture change within AgeTech research and industry and ensuring ethical thinking is part of their everyday working practices. Three international workshops took place in June 2023 and the first national workshop took place in October 023 in Toronto. Check back over February for information on the two national workshops with older adults taking place at 411 Seniors Centre Society and Silver Harbour Seniors Centre in partnership with 411 and Silver Harbour. 


Additional Projects and Initiatives
The LEADS team continues to identify additional projects and initiatives, in partnership with 411 and the 411 Seniors Research Working Group, and informed by and in community with 411 members.