An Effective, Culturally Tailored Day Program for Seniors with Dementia

Award Date: 2019

Project Lead(s): Sybil Braganza

Project Title: Culturally Responsive Community Based Adult Dementia Day Program

What is the issue?

Currently, there are significant barriers to connecting older adults with dementia and their caregivers from ethnic and cultural minorities with mainstream support services.

What did we do?

We created a day program tailored for seniors with dementia and their caregivers who belong to a minority ethnic and cultural community. The program accommodated the language, culture, and dietary preferences for Indo-Canadians. Our goals were to improve well-being, provide support, and reduce isolation for older adults with dementia and their caregivers. We conducted a six-month pilot program in partnership with the Indo-Canadian Community Centre, the Champlain Community Support Network, and the Social Planning Council of Ottawa.

What did we find?

All seniors, caregivers, community partners, and staff reported high levels of satisfaction. Seniors and caregivers enjoyed the activities, felt less isolated, and benefited from connecting with their peers. Many caregivers preferred to participate alongside family members to reduce loneliness and isolation.

Communications that focused on brain health and activities for older adults, including individuals with dementia were the most effective for recruiting participants. Areas for improvement included improved volunteer coordination, defined roles for community partners and staff, and tailoring activities for different cognitive abilities.

The pilot was inexpensive but required some financial resources. We obtained additional support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to extend the pilot. We also added a second pilot for seniors and caregivers who speak Chinese, in partnership with the Kanata Chinese Seniors Support Centre.  We will report soon on lessons learned, drivers of success, and challenges.