“Having one hand-held resource with information that’s not confusing (to older adults) is what we’re aiming for.” — Dryden Chadwick
Two Queen’s University students are in the process of launching a free information pamphlet to help both older adults and small businesses in Kingston.
Dryden Chadwick, a fourth-year biochemistry student, and her housemate, Ava Lacey, a third-year life sciences student, came up with the idea for the program, to be launched through the Frontenac-Kingston Council on Aging.
Chadwick said that about a month and a half ago, they were discussing challenges faced by older adults in Kingston—such as loneliness, and a lack of access and knowledge about services catering to the older population—when they decided to act by reaching out to the Council.
“We were stuck at home. [We decided] we should do something about this. We were looking into what was available in Kingston for seniors,” Chadwick said.
“We realized how difficult it is for older people to get information,” added Lacey. “We reached out to John Mirski (Board President of the Frontenac-Kingston Council on Aging). There was such a gap of knowledge [for older adults]. Online services can be overwhelming for them”.
The students said their own employment—Chadwick’s work at Kingston General Hospital and Lacey’s pharmacy job—provided them both with plenty of opportunities to have conversations with older adults, who comprise almost 20 per cent of Kingston’s population, according to data from 2016. At the same time, the duo also wanted to help small businesses weather the pandemic by giving them a platform to be heard by older adults wanting to age in place, as well as the chance to list their services for free.
“We don’t intend to charge businesses,” said Chadwick. “That’s another plus for this. We are intending to advertise [in the brochure].” The advertisers will help fund the printing costs, according to the pair.
“With COVID-19 restrictions beginning to come to an end, we are recognizing that many of the services offered this past year from businesses may not be continued. Our goal on the Council is to create a platform where seniors can access necessary information about services of use that businesses will continue to offer, even post-pandemic,” the Frontenac-Kingston Council of Aging said in a press release.
The pamphlet’s size—its exact number of pages unknown as of the moment—will depend on the number of businesses and services signing up. It will be distributed to older adults, their family members and friends, health clinics, and support organizations, according to Lacey.
“We’re hoping to have it online, as well as handheld copies,” Chadwick said.
Businesses with services that include curbside pickup or delivery, in-home spa or salon services, grocery delivery, pharmacies, home maintenance, and entertainment businesses are invited to fill out a form manually or online to be included in the pamphlet. Chadwick shared that any businesses that help seniors live independently and safely in their homes are welcome to sign up.
“Having one hand-held resource with information that’s not confusing is what we’re aiming for,” she said.
“Losing your independence is a big deal to seniors,” added Lacey.
To sign up, visit the Kingston Council on Aging: Business Information Form. The pamphlet’s projected release date will be towards the end of the year.
Both students were also involved in another project through the Frontenac-Kingston Council on Aging at the beginning of the pandemic. “Sunshine Calls,” where volunteers provide wellness checks by calling older adults who live alone and connect them as a social network among themselves, is still ongoing and is well-received, with lots of volunteers, according to Chadwick.
“By linking seniors to one another through daily phone conversations, this program seeks to help seniors make new social connections, reduce loneliness, and improve their quality of life, all without leaving the comfort and safety of their own homes,” according to the Frontenac Kingston Council on Aging website.