An Interview With Jill Hoselton– Calgary Regional Coordinator

May 31, 2022

Tell us a little bit about yourself:    

I am a registered social worker in Edmonton, Alberta. I have been practicing for the past eight years in diverse contexts. This spring I finished my Masters of Social Work (MSW) in Clinical Trauma-Informed Care, and this Fall will commence my PhD in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary. Beyond my professional life, I am a stepmom/mom to two incredible daughters, Franka and Lou, and I spend lots of time with my family walking our dog Leto, gardening, and talking politics.  

What got you interested in researching aging in the right place for older persons experiencing homelessness?

In part my thesis supervisor, Dr. Christine Walsh who is the City Lead for Calgary on the project, thought I might be interested in becoming involved in the aging right place for older persons experiencing homelessness project -- she was right! I had also in the past worked with older adults who had experienced elder abuse. Many of the individuals I worked alongside ended up houseless due to the abuse they experienced. Through this work I realized how limited the resources were for older adults, particularly older adults experiencing houselessness, and this project was an avenue for me to effect change in this area.

What are you currently working on with the AIRP-VABE partnership project?

Alongside the rest of the amazing Calgary team, I am helping with data collection and analysis-- I have primarily interviewed service providers who are supporting older adults experiencing houselessness and are accessing their programs. I also engage with knowledge mobilization activities, including presentations, papers, and blog posts to disseminate our research findings and engage with community. Most recently our team facilitated two art exhibits in Calgary, both with photography/artwork done by older adults engaged with the research project, that were a wonderful success.

What do you most enjoy about working with the AIRP-VABE partnership?

I greatly appreciate how dynamic this research project is. Every day is different and I have met people across professional disciplines who either work directly for the research project or in community supporting older adults. It is also a privilege to hear the stories of the participants, and it has given me a deeper understanding of the barriers older adults face on their journey to safe, affordable and secure homes. There is much to learn and much to take action on. I will also say that the small team we have in Calgary is a delight to work with. Everyone is passionate, hardworking, and collaborative. Overall we are having a lot of fun together and I am grateful for the experience.

What is something that you have learned since being a part of the AIRP-VABE partnership team?

I've learned many things since I started this project, but one aspect that stands out to me is the complexity of homelessness/houselessness. There are many stereotypes about what homelessness looks like, and through this work I have gained a deeper understanding of how nuanced people's lived realities are, and how homelessness looks for one person, might look very different for the next. Also, I have come to understand just how prevalent ageism is in Canada. By undervaluing the older adults in our communities we are missing out on how much they can enrich our world.

What are your future goals in relation to the work you’ve been involved in with the AIRP-VABE partnership?

Our team is really hoping to get some writing done this summer! It has been a busy year and shifting gears a bit towards writing and presenting our work is certainly a focus. One paper we are working on takes an intersectional approach to understanding older adult experiences of houselessness. This means understanding how identity markers such as age, class, race, gender, sexuality, and ability intersect with one another and contribute to experiences of oppression and homelessness.