Influencing policy and practice
As a community-based researcher the goal of my inquiries is to effect change that ultimately contributes to the creation of a more equitable system of health and social care, be it in policy or practice.
My research on sponsorship of older immigrants, as argued in the chapter, Promises, Promises, supports the reduction of the period of dependency of parents and grandparents on their sponsors, usually their adult offspring. This recommendation was adopted by the Special Senate Committee on Aging, but not by the government itself. As a member of the Moving Forward team, I contributed to a policy paper in which I extended the argument against a long period of sponsorship on the grounds that it contributes to the likelihood that older immigrants will be abused in some form by overextended sponsors. My cumulative analysis of the data from all four sites in our Pathways to a Diagnosis of Dementia study resulted in a paper that included a range of policy recommendations to increase access to a dementia diagnosis for older immigrants. Most recently, I have drafted recommendations for the Federal government based on a critical interpretive synthesis of the literature on ageism as it is experienced at the intersections of other identities such as female, sexual and/or ethnoracial minority, disability, etc.
Executive or lay summaries are important because they distil the findings of complex reports into key messages for rapid review by knowledge users. Audiences vary from policymakers (e.g., the executive summary of Aging at the Intersections) or community members (e.g. the lay summary in English and Punjabi of the S4AC project findings). My teams also produce policy briefs to communicate key recommendations to policymakers, e.g., Addressing the Needs of Immigrant Older Adults: Navigating Disability, Housing, & Transportation and Caring for Immigrant Older Adults: Learning from Lived Experiences.
In person or online presentations can be a good way to reach wide and diverse or selective audiences. I am often invited to present on my work to community, frontline and policy stakeholders in the health and immigrant settlement sectors. Selected examples of these presentations include
- A presentation to more than 150 participants for the Canadian Deprescribing Network on Engaging diverse audiences for safer medication use
- A keynote talk on social isolation and connection among older immigrants for the multicultural seniors in age-friendly North Shore communities webinar
- A BrainXchange webinar to an extensive nationwide audience on Facilitating trusting relationships to help immigrant older adults access dementia care
- One of four speakers featured in the BC Care Provider’s Association Care to Chat Series ticketed event on Providing Culturally Appropriate Care for BC’s Aging Population, moderated by CBC’s Belle Puri.
- A CHNET-WORKS! (Public Health Agency of Canada) webinar to an extensive nationwide audience on Culture, Aging and Mental Health.
- A webinar presentation on Promoting Mental Health of Immigrant Seniors in Community arranged by the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies in BC (AMSSA BC) for diverse stakeholders including policy makers.
- A webinar presentation for the Virtual Settlement Learning Exchange (AMSSA BC) on Supportive Services for Immigrant Older Adults targeted at frontline staff of immigrant settlement agencies.
- My written and oral testimony that was central to a recommendation for policy change of Sponsorship regulations by the Special Senate Committee on Aging.
Participation in consultations/advisory committees
Based on my reputation in my field, I am frequently invited to participate in reference groups or advisory committees of initiatives intended to influence policy or practice guidelines. Select examples are
- My inclusion as a participant in the Social Inclusion Validation Workshop on Recent Immigrant and Refugee Seniors—a national consultation organized by Seniors and Pensions Policy Secretariat of Employment and Social Development Canada—that informed their supplementary social isolation toolkit for newcomers.
- My inclusion in the Provincial consultation on elder abuse, by the Seniors Action team, Government of B.C., that informed the VCH ReACT Abuse Prevention program.
- My invitation as a member of the Seniors’ Research Advisory Team at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
- My participation in the ‘Immigrant Population Working Group’ of the Provincial Health Services Authority’s Reducing Health Inequities: A Health System Approach to Chronic Disease Prevention project that generated a widely distributed discussion paper.
- My invitation to join the Reference Group on Chronic Disease & Injury Prevention to inform the development of the Provincial Women’s Health Strategy, Ministry of Health, Government of British Columbia.