Contemporary seniors village models, the stage of knowledge around evidence-based care, and future areas for students and faculty are just some of the findings in a comprehensive report series released by the Trent Centre for Aging & Society (TCAS). These reports build on Trent’s age-friendly university designation and provides key insights as Trent continues to plan its University-Integrated Seniors Village, a Trent Lands and Nature Areas Plan priority project.
“The broader vision for the University-Integrated Seniors Village is to create a complete intergenerational community that gives seniors access to community services in one place while bolstering our academic knowledge on age-friendly communities and supportive seniors living,” explains Julie Davis, vice-president of external relations and development at Trent. “Part of this vision is also providing a continuum of care, one element of which is our collaboration with peopleCare Communities on the creation of a long-term care home within the Seniors Village.”
A convergence of university priorities
VP Davis shares that since the first guiding principle of the Trent Lands Plan is to advance learning and discovery, it is key to incorporate scholarship and student engagement in every step of the Seniors Village planning process. The Seniors Village initiative has the potential to bring together research and teaching opportunities in Trent’s three pillars of academic strength – environment, Indigenous studies, and aging.
“This report series is a great example of Trent’s interdisciplinary and collaborative approach, and of how community-engaged research, that includes students, can be integrated with university lands development priorities,” says Dr. Mark Skinner, dean of Humanities and Social Sciences and member of the University-Integrated Seniors Village steering committee. “Trent already is a global destination for interdisciplinary aging research and scholarship, and we want to bring the world’s attention to our continuing academic integration initiatives that support communities, such as the Seniors Village.”
The three-part University-Integrated Seniors Village Report Series was made possible through funding from the Jalynn Bennett Estate and was led by Laura Poulin, a Ph.D. candidate in Canadian Studies and TCAS graduate associate, and was developed through consultations with experts in the field, extensive literature reviews and case studies of existing campus of care initiatives around the world.
“One of the things that really came out of the reports was that there isn't just one model for care. Instead it's really about integrating what's needed within the community and recognizing the priorities of community partners,” says Laura. “This report series is evidence of how research can inform planning for innovative initiatives. It provides a basis from which Trent can engage with community partners and develop a model that truly serves the needs of local seniors.”
Interweaving Indigenous perspectives
Continued engagement with local Michi Saagiig communities and the incorporation of Indigenous Knowledge and ways of doing is central to the plans for the Seniors Village, and the University continues to engage with local Indigenous communities around the Seniors Village, including collaboration on environmental studies about the land on which the village will be built.
The Seniors Village also holds many scholarship opportunities around Indigenous aging perspectives, which is also an area of focus for TCAS. As part of its mission to foster scholarship around Indigenous perspectives on aging, TCAS is collaborating with the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies on initiatives such as this past year’s Elders Gathering and Aging and Society Seminar Series. Researchers like Dr. Nadine Changfoot and Trent’s new Canada research chair in Care Work, Ethnicity, Race and Aging, Dr. Bharati Sethi, are also leading studies on topics relating to aging and diversity.
“This report series and our partnership with the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies are both such a natural fit with our priorities at TCAS,” says Dr. Elizabeth Russell, director of the Trent Centre for Aging & Society. “Although we all have our different areas of focus within the University, it is really great to see how Trent’s overarching strengths in Indigenous perspectives, the environment, and aging align through initiatives like the Seniors Village.”
A foundation for future research and collaboration
“This report series provides a great starting point as we move forward with engagement with key partners such as government, the City of Peterborough, local First Nations, and community partners like Age-Friendly Peterborough in determining local priorities and needs,” says VP Davis. “It was particularly helpful in showcasing just how aspects such as community priorities, funding opportunities and potential partnerships help shape the focus and elements of a seniors village.”
The series also highlights opportunities for future research and scholarship on the topic.
“This report series really serves as an idea-starter for both the campus development and academic fronts,” adds Professor Skinner. “Trent University, and TCAS in particular, have a significant role to play in contributing new knowledge and addressing some of the gaps identified through Laura’s groundbreaking study.”
Visit the Trent University-Integrated Seniors Village website for more information on community engagement initiatives and next steps.