“Our mission is to raise awareness of seniors’ issues to build a healthy community of seniors living in British Columbia.”
We offer workshops free of charge to seniors or people interested in raising awareness about seniors’ issues in BC.
We offer over 40 health related workshops. Over 50,000 participants have attended our workshops in the last 12 years.
Our facilitators are trained volunteers who refer participants to their own medical or legal practitioner for services.
We work with our partner organizations to promote better health, better living, legal, financial and safety issues for seniors.
We are a registered non-profit society in BC, and a charitable society registered in Canada.
Foreword: Our twelve years of service to seniors in BC brings pride in our growth and contribution to enhancing the quality of life for seniors in our province.
Since 2007 our free workshops have been attended by over 50,000 BC seniors. The Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC (COSCO) was responsible for the workshops until 2010 when the Seniors’ Health & Wellness Institute was created. These two organizations are separate with different boards and funding. The Institute is a non-profit organization registered in BC and is a Canadian charitable organization.
The credit for the foresight and dedication to implement the Seniors’ Health and Wellness Institute belongs to Sheila Pither who developed the first workshop on Falls Prevention. Since then the Institute has achieved its goal of expanding the program to include over 40 workshop topics. Presentations on better health, better living, legal and financial issues, and safety are made available at no charge to raise seniors’ awareness in these areas.
We acknowledge with gratitude the partnerships we have with funding agencies and our networks with other organizations to help seniors live informed and healthy lives. Working for the welfare and best interests of seniors has been most fulfilling and efforts are being made to ensure continued relevance of the workshops to the changing needs of BC citizens.
Process: COSCO is an umbrella organization of many groups advocating for health, housing, transportation, and income security issues for seniors in BC. The fundamental concept is to build workshops which are offered free of charge to groups of seniors and occasionally to younger people.
PowerPoint presentations are prepared for each workshop, tested, and then advertised in our brochure on our website. Various senior groups (e.g. community centres, retiree associations, residential facilities) request specific workshops. Facilitators are trained and given website access for information in three formats for each topic: PowerPoint presentation, speaker’s notes and a handout for all participants highlighting key points and providing reference websites and/or phone numbers for further information.
The first workshop on Falls Prevention met with great success. Falls are one of the most common causes of hospitalization for seniors who may then experience loss of mobility and independence, possibly leading to long term disability and costly rehabilitation. Preventing falls has a direct benefit on seniors’ quality of life and health care cost saving. Other workshops have been similarly designed to promote a healthy lifestyle and to inspire personal planning to prevent or manage serious health concerns.
Constitution: The Constitution and Bylaws were updated to comply with the BC Societies Act in 2018. A copy of the Constitution and Bylaws is available by contacting our President.
Policies: The Seniors’ Health and Wellness Institute is a nonpartisan, democratic organization with all business conducted under parliamentary rules of order. Policy matters are decided at the regular meetings of the Board of the Institute. The policies involve the running of the organization, updating of workshops, and strategic planning. Regular communications with facilitators includes the monthly requests for workshops and statistics of achievements. The workshop coordinator handles the data of requests and links facilitators to equipment needs for specific sites.
Recognizing Seniors: The facilitators are all seniors themselves, hence our motto “Seniors Helping Seniors”; they are the backbone of the Institute. They freely give their time and efforts to make presentations at the level of the audience, involving them in the discussions, and referring participants to their own medical or legal practitioner for services if required. They do not offer individual advice.
Annual General Meeting: The AGM is held in Burnaby on the first Friday in March of each year. Notice of the meeting is sent at least 30 days prior by post or electronically to the Institute members.
Funding: Because the workshops are provided free of charge, funds are needed for laptop computers, digital projectors, photocopying, facilitator travel, etc. Facilitators are reimbursed for mileage and meals. We particularly thank the Province of BC, the Centre for Hip Health and personal donators.
Logo: The logo was designed by Alex Hui and consists of five stylized people with outstretched arms signifying health and joy.
Acknowledgement: The Seniors’ Health and Wellness Institute (COSCO) acknowledges the homelands of the Indigenous Peoples of this place we now call British Columbia and honours the many territorial keepers of the Lands on which we work.
Future Prospects: Strategic planning issues include raising our profile by getting more exposure on social media and having an up-to-date, easy-to-use website. Our Seniors’ Health & Wellness Institute website includes information about the Institute and our workshops.
Future planning also includes making additional partnerships to enable us to expand our list of workshop topics, training more facilitators, and continuing to offer quality presentations throughout the province.
Barb Mikulec, June 2020