Demonstrating Impact: Healthy Aging Program Stories and Reflections
United Way British Columbia: Developmental and Summative Evaluation

Demonstrating Impact: Healthy Aging Program Stories and Reflections

United Way British Columbia: Developmental and Summative Evaluation

Howegroup, in partnership with Catalyst Consulting, has been contracted by the United Way British Columbia (UWBC) to conduct a summative evaluation of demonstration projects that have been funded over a 3-year time period across three independent streams: Social prescribing for older adults at risk of frailty, Therapeutic Activation Programs for Seniors (TAPS), and the Family Caregiver Support Program.

We had the privilege of sharing interim findings from the evaluation at the United Way’s  2022 Provincial Summit on Healthy Aging alongside leaders of community-based seniors serving organizations who shared their stories of how programs are impacting older adults, caregivers, and communities in BC.  

The evaluation methodology included qualitative interviews with older adults and family/friend caregivers, volunteers, front-line care providers, and health system leaders, longitudinal surveys with older adult and family/friend caregiver program participants, and cross-sectional surveys with funded programs (community-based organizations), volunteers, and UWBC staff/leadership and stream leaders.  

Interim evaluation findings

At this time, the Higher Needs program is beginning to demonstrate progress toward outcomes:

  • Increased referrals between funded organizations
  • Increased integration of home health services, primary care and community based services to meet participants’ needs
  • Improved understanding of the role of CBSS within the healthcare system
  • More appropriate use of health care resources
  • Increased integration of programming strategies between funded organizations

Participants have reported improvements to their overall quality of life, their emotional health, and their confidence as caregivers.  Further, participants are experiencing greater support from healthcare providers, greater connection to the community, and overall improvement in their relationships.  

Providers have noted benefits from Higher Needs as well, including increased collaboration, partnerships, and integration of services. Providers also told us Higher Needs is reducing gaps in, and duplication of, services and are seeing some improvement in upstream prevention in the healthcare system.  “I see a lot of clients referred by primary care physicians. It’s hard for them, and for us, to provide long-term support. Our health care system focused on physical conditions, the emotional supports are provided by the [Higher Needs funded] program.”  – Front-line care provider 

The evaluation process shed light on a wide range of program successes that have paved the way for positive changes to come about:

  • Having consistent support available to participants (whether they receive support in person and/or via Zoom).
  • The person-centered approach adopted by funded programs. The programs commonly aim to place participants at the ‘centre of the service’ and actively involve them in making decisions about their lives.
  • Responding to needs, tailoring service to unique circumstances of older adults particularly during the pandemic when needs required immediate attention (i.e., food security, housing).
  • Prioritizing inclusivity by offering services in participants’ preferred language, addressing mobility/ transportation challenges.
  • Collaborating with partners to integrate services and connect participants to existing community services where possible.
  • Maximizing emerging organic support networks that have emerged from participant workshops.

Over the next year, Howegroup will continue to assess the impact of the Higher Needs program.  Along with the United Way, we have identified ways to strengthen the evaluation process including support for programs and monitoring evaluation data in real-time to inform program improvements and adaptations.  We are excited to continue this work with the United Way of BC as programs support older adults and family/friend caregivers in their journeys. 

Interested in reading a few stories about folks involved in Higher Needs funded programs? Click here.