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Aging in the right place: A report of promising practice shelter/ housing models for older people experiencing homelessness in Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver
Canham, S. L., Humphries, J., Sussman, T., & Walsh, C. A. (2020). Aging in the right place: A report of promising practice shelter/ housing models for older people experiencing homelessness in Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver. Vancouver, BC: Simon Fraser University.
The numbers of older people experiencing homelessness (OPEH) is on the rise in Canada1 and shelter/housing models that meet the needs of this population are scarce. OPEH are more likely to report chronic physical and mental health conditions compared to older adults who do not have experiences of homelessness,4 which can be challenging to meet in general population shelter/ housing settings.2,5–7 The concept of aging in the 'right place’ recognizes that where an older person lives impacts their ability to age optimally and must match their unique lifestyles and vulnerabilities.8 In other words, the optimal set of housing, health, and social supports can enable older adults with limited income, complex chronic health conditions, and/or experiences of marginalization to age in the 'right place.'8 The goal of this study was to identify ‘promising practices’ of shelter/housing that support aging in the right place for OPEH in Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver and understand the characteristics that make them promising.
Promising practices are innovative models that have not been subject to rigorous evaluation,9 but hold the promise of supporting aging in the right place for OPEH. In order to identify promising practice shelter/housing models for OPEH in Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver, our research team conducted a multi-method study using an environmental scan10 and semi-structured World Café dialogue sessions11 in each city. Although they vary in methodology, environmental scans are “an important tool to inform decisionmaking on policy, planning, and program development.”12(p1) Our environmental scan involved an Internet and print materials search, followed by informal conversations with providers identified through the scan. World Café methodology is a participatory research approach which involves bringing participants together in an informal setting to engage in guided, small-table discussions about a specific topic.11 In total, 89 service providers (n=51) and people with lived experience of homelessness (n=38) participated in one of the three World Cafés to discuss gaps in the environmental scan and the capacity and functioning of the identified promising practices. (See Appendix A for detailed study methods.)
This report first presents a demographic profile of each of the three cities (Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver), followed by findings from the environmental scan and World Cafés, and concludes with recommendations for next steps.