Wellness workshop tool kit for South Asian seniors receives provincial attention

A tool kit that offers practical step-by-step information on how to organize and facilitate health and wellness workshops for South Asian seniors has caught the eye of a provincial seniors’ expert.

“(I) must say that I was quite impressed with it,” says Dr. Samir Sinha, Director of Geriatrics for Mount Sinai and the University Health Network Hospitals, and Provincial Lead for Ontario’s Seniors Care Strategy. “This sort of material is integral to making older adults – especially from diverse communities – more comfortable with navigating their own health and wellness issues, and the system as well.”

Dr. Sinha reviewed the toolkit, called “Taking Care of Me! A Tool Kit for Organizing and Facilitating Health & Wellness Workshops for South Asian Seniors,” which was created by CHATS – Community & Home Assistance to Seniors, in collaboration with the Social Services Network.

CHATS is a not-for-profit charitable organization that supports the health and well-being of seniors and caregivers at home and in the community (serving York Region and South Simcoe).  Social Services Network is a not-for-profit charitable organization that delivers culturally and linguistically appropriate programs and services to the South Asian community in York Region.

The tool kit was designed for use by community leaders and volunteers, to enable them to deliver six one-hour health and wellness workshops to seniors in Tamil and Punjabi. Available in Tamil, Punjabi and English, the tool kit focuses on navigating the health care system, as well as physical and mental health education and activities.

“The ultimate goal of this project is to develop a resource that will assist grassroots organizations to successfully promote health and improve individual and community well-being programs for South Asian seniors,” says Christina Bisanz, CEO for CHATS.

The development of the content was based on the results of focus groups conducted with Tamil and Punjabi seniors, as well as interviews with Tamil and Punjabi community workers. The content includes:

●  an outline of the key tasks, activities, checklists, and sample communication templates for organizing each of the six workshops.
●  workshop-specific facilitator notes and “scripts” that aim to guide facilitators in the delivery of each workshop.
●  identification of appropriate usage of local hospital Emergency Departments and alternative health care options.

The specific workshop topics are:

● Learning About the Health Care System
● Learning About Community Supports and Recreation Programs
● Managing My Physical Health – Part 1: Heart, Stroke & Asthma
● Managing My Physical Health – Part 2: Diabetes & Falls Prevention
● Delicious & Nutritious! – A Healthy South Asian Diet
● Managing My Mental Health

To date, more than 19 community leaders and volunteers have received training through the tool kit.

Copies are available free-of-charge from CHATS, and they are also posted on the CHATS website.  To find out more, contact CHATS at 1-877-452-4287.

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