Meet our 10 finalists
Lori McLeod is the Executive Director Eldercare Foundation and a business generalist with communications, marketing and fundraising expertise. She is an active community volunteer currently serving on multiple boards and committees.
How is your project "smart" and aligned to the themes of Smart South Island?
ElderConnect will create a sustainable community model to promote and improve quality of life for seniors and those who care for them. It will simplify and unify access to the wealth of resources and services aimed at supporting the aging journey. This can assist decision makers as they plan and budget to ensure our rapidly aging population has access to key basics such as affordable housing to ageing-place and accessible transportation options to maintain mobility and independence.
How was the final concept determined?
ElderConnect builds on the Eldercare Foundation’s successful Embrace Aging initiative. In 2016 we hosted community focus groups and workshops to explore the effect of transitions across the life span. What we heard from the close to 300 people who attended (between the ages of 25 and 95) was the frustration of finding and accessing appropriate services and resources for themselves or the senior in their care. Easy access through a safe and reliable community-based support network was what we were challenged to develop and are now building.
How does your concept name explain itself?
ElderConnect Wellness Navigation System was chosen as it is synonymous with our goal to connect elders and those who care for them to resources, community offerings and supports to promote wellness and enhance quality of life through the aging journey.
Where else in Canada or the world could you see your project being effective?
Our goal is to create an ElderConnected Canada. It is designed to be easily scaled up and out to communities who are interested in age-friendly community engagement. Additionally, this model is easily adaptable for other countries and, with the right funding and partners, could become a globally connected network.
What was the biggest challenge in creating your concept?
Our challenge has been designing a functional and easy to use community-based network system in a manner relevant to both today’s ‘technology shy’ seniors and tomorrow’s ‘technology reliant’ seniors.
What has been the most enjoyable part of creating your concept?
Talking to hundreds of seniors, their sons, daughters and grandchildren about their personal aging journey experiences; listening to their innovative and practical ideas; and incorporating what we heard and learned into our design.
If you could select any well-known person to endorse your project, who would it be and why?
Bill Gates. He is renowned for his social responsibility and generous philanthropic contributions. Additionally, as he is now in his 60s with a father in his 90s, navigating the aging journey is upon him.
If you could include any partner(s) within your concept who would they be and why?
A corporate platform host offering in-kind services and expertise could see our network expand across the country with reliable, robust internet host support. Community Foundations throughout Canada would be ideal partners to provide funding grants. A leading technology development company partnership would help us keep abreast of technology advances. And, of course, philanthropic partners to help us implement, grow and sustain until we can become self-sustaining.
What long-term impact do you envision about your project?
As the aging population grows, so too does the need for easy access to resources to support the aging journey. Additionally, with families scattered across the province, country and globe, having a uniform, reliable, sustainable network of support that can be easily accessed by anyone, anywhere is paramount. ElderConnect can do this!
Why is Smart South Island important to our Region?
A Smart South Island is important to our region as we have one of the most rapidly aging populations in Canada. With the shrinking ratio of workers to retired people, we will also need to be prudent about financial impacts as there just won’t be enough taxpayers to fund everything.