The original timeline for this grant, Projecting the Needs of Aging Atlantic Canadians (now referred to as the ASHRA project), was January 2005 - December 2009. However, the funding agency, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), granted the project a no-cost extension to September 30, 2011 (i.e., no additional funding will be awarded). This extension year was used to work toward three specific objectives as follows:
1. Assist the Provincial Stakeholder Groups to transition from operation with support from the project to operating on their own beyond the life of the ASHRA grant.
2. Prepare and publish a Final Report to Stakeholders .
3. Provide ASHRA Co-Investigators with the time to conduct their own ASHRA research and to publish the resulting papers in peer-reviewed journals.
The Atlantic Seniors Housing Research Alliance (ASHRA) arose from the collective efforts of a research alliance that began with 37 members encompassing all four Atlantic Provinces, and representing universities, seniors’ organizations, housing developers, service providers, and government departments. ASHRA's team has grown significantly since the project's inception, and now boasts a membership of over 120 stakeholders. Our experience has defined a collaborative project that addresses a critical set of issues facing aging Atlantic Canadians. Our work has facilitated dialogue about these issues within provincial, regional, national, and most recently, international settings.
Housing options available to Atlantic Canada's rapidly aging population narrow as the everyday demands of living become more onerous and increasing assistance is required. Health status and income levels are important determining factors for the type of supportive housing options that will be available to an individual. Additionally, the needs and wants of contemporary seniors are very different from those of their parents, and we have previously known very little about how these differences will impact future living choices.
This aging Atlantic Canadian population faces special challenges and differs from that of other Canadian provinces in three main respects. First, the senior proportion of the Atlantic region’s population is higher and growing faster when compared with trends in other provinces, resulting in a higher demand for a variety of housing options. Second, the income level of this region’s seniors is lower than the national average and housing solutions available in other parts of the country may not be financially feasible for many Atlantic Canadian seniors. Finally, when viewed nationally, a larger proportion of the Atlantic Provinces’ population, including seniors, live in rural areas. While a variety of urban area housing options are being developed, rural areas may need to devise different strategies.
To project aging Atlantic Canadians’ future housing needs from 2009 to 2029, we began by constructing a predictive Geo-demographic Model (GDM). The GDM information was then enhanced with the implementation of the ASHRA Seniors Housing and Support Services Survey, completed by over 1,700 respondents. Next, 15 focus groups were conducted at urban and rural sites. Participants were asked about how they thought their health, income status, life transitions, and other factors are likely to affect their future housing wants and needs. The demographic projections from the GDM and Survey, along with the qualitative information collected through the focus groups, was then examined in comparison with the region’s housing policies and programs (policy research), and a review of successful seniors housing models from other countries (Case Studies).
This project addressed the issues surrounding the future of seniors' housing in Atlantic Canada by asking seniors about their wants and needs with regard to their housing situation. The resulting analysis of available supply and anticipated demand is designed to assist government policymakers, housing developers, and seniors' and other community organizations in planning for the future housing and support services needs of Atlantic Canadian seniors. The involvement of four provincial Stakeholder Groups throughout the project, and the Atlantic Seniors Housing Needs Conference, has served to facilitate and begin the development of public policy solutions.
Over the course of the project, ASHRA has also helped to build the community-university research capacity in the Atlantic region with respect to seniors and housing, and has communicated the project's research results to a wide and diverse audience across the region and beyond. In the 2010-2011 extension years, project investigators and staff worked with the Provincial Stakeholder Groups to develop a transition plan that will allow them to continue operating on their own, beyond the conclusion of the project. In this way, these groups can continue to communicate the research results to others and work together to help promote positive change within their provinces.