Engaging Older Adults and Setting the Direction of PGLO – the Older Adult and Care Partner Advisory Council

Provincial Geriatrics Leadership Ontario (PGLO) has established an Older Adult and Care Partner Advisory Council (OACPAC). This new Council aims to directly involve older adults and their care partners in establishing PGLO’s priorities and co-designing initiatives intended to support older adults living with complex health conditions.

The Council, established in Summer of 2021, includes participants from all five Ontario Health regions. Members inform PGLO’s approach to engaging with older adults and their care partners. Care partners include the family, friends or neighbours who accompany older adults as they move through the health system and who contribute to their care.

PGLO’s approach to co-design prioritizes collaboration with older adults and their care partners and is reflected in the Council’s membership. “I think it’s necessary to have a fifty-fifty balance of older adults and care partners on the Council because, most times, it is a partnership going through the journey. I believe it’s important to have that balance of both perspectives,” said Mona Lancaster, one of two co-chairs of the OACPAC who manage and facilitate meetings.

An active Council also helps to align PGLO’s initiatives with the Quadruple Aim — a means of performance measurement adopted by Ministry of Health that advances patient and caregiver experience while also prioritizing cost, population health and the experience of care providers.

According to OACPAC co-chair  Anne-Marie Yaraskavitch, consulting with those who are affected most by policy and operational decisions relates to two of the Quadruple Aim’s four priorities. “Two elements that stand out immediately are enhancing patient experience and improving population health through being a voice at the table. Being able to share what the journey is like — what’s working, what needs improvement, where the gaps are — will definitely help enhance patient experience,” said Yaraskavitch.

Council roles range from reviewing work plan priorities, identifying new initiatives and recommending organizations for partnership to strengthen relationships and support the integrated health and social care of older adults.

Among Council members, diversity in cultural background, geographic location and experience of health and social care in Ontario is encouraged and prioritized for membership. The Council uses a consensus model of decision-making, helping the group build agreement on the best approaches to serve the interests of older adults and their caregivers in Ontario.

The OACPAC meets every two months, or more often as needed. The co-chairs, who are also the Older Adult Representatives to the PGLO Steering Committee, serve two-year terms.

“The first step in any advocacy is getting the information out there about the personal experiences of the people and what they’ve gone through,” Lancaster said.

For more information about the OACPAC and to get involved, email info@rgpo.ca.