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166 Bedford Highway, Halifax, N.S., B3M 2J6  donald.shiner@msvu.ca

Project Background

What will the housing needs of aging Atlantic Canadians be over the next 20 years? What housing options should be developed to meet these needs? A series of meetings of concerned stakeholders in the fall of 2003 identified the answers to these questions as a research priority. The proposal, Projecting the Housing Needs of Aging Atlantic Canadians, rose from the collective efforts of a research alliance encompassing all four Atlantic Provinces, and representing universities, seniors’ organizations, housing developers, service providers, and government departments. Our experience has defined a collaborative project that addresses a critical set of issues facing aging Atlantic Canadians. Our work has and continues to facilitate dialogues about these issues within provincial and regional settings.

In October of 2002, Dr. Janice Keefe, Canada Research Chair in Aging and Caregiving Policy and Associate Professor in the MSVU Family Studies and Gerontology Department, and Marlene MacLellan, then Associate Director of the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging (NSCA) at MSVU, co-hosted a two-day workshop on “Building Capacity in Continuing Care: Bridging Researchers and Decision Makers in the Atlantic Region.” Forty-three people from across Atlantic Canada attended. Workshop participants discussed the topic area of Alternatives along the Continuum of Care, defined as “Estimating the need for facility-based services and alternative supports in Atlantic Canada, including supports such as assisted living, enriched housing, and ambulatory care”. Two of the specific projects identified for future action were to “develop profiles of past, current, and future users of continuing care services” and to “determine gaps in services, programming, and residences”.

As a result of the collaborative discussions at this MSVU workshop, the NSCA conducted a literature search to survey the current status of assisted living developments in Canada and the United States, and a Synthesis Report on “Assisted Living: Policy Implications in the Atlantic Provinces” was prepared by Clare Parks for distribution and discussion. In April 2003, approximately 80 participants attended an Atlantic Region Conference on Assisted Living in Halifax, and hosted by the Continuing Care Association of Nova Scotia (CCANS) The conference underscored the need for ongoing dialogue, sharing information, and addressing public policy issues related to this rapidly growing area of supportive housing.

On September 26, 2003, the results of the NSCA literature search were presented to a group of community stakeholders at a meeting jointly convened by the NSCA and CCANS in Halifax. The participants included representatives from seniors’ organizations, government departments, housing developers, and service providers. The group agreed to continue to meet as an Assisted Living Stakeholders Group to: 1) provide input into the development of research proposals, and 2) articulate public policy issues and solutions related to supportive housing.

The Assisted Living Stakeholder Group in Nova Scotia continued to meet throughout the fall and winter of 2003 and identified the research questions for the CURA Letter of Intent (LOI) submitted to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) on December 8, 2003. Because the research questions are of equal interest to stakeholders within the other three Atlantic Provinces, participants at the 2002 Capacity Building Workshop and other key organizations were invited to participate in the proposed CURA project. As a result, the LOI proposal garnered the support of university-based co-applicants, representing MSVU, Dalhousie, UNB, UPEI, and Memorial University. During the development of the formal proposal, Dr. Don Shiner and the university-based co-applicants worked with the community-based collaborators and partners who supported the LOI to develop the collaborative structure for participation in the proposed research.

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