Links2Wellbeing: Social Prescribing for Older Adults aims to transform the way healthcare providers (Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, etc.) link older adults in Ontario to social and recreational opportunities to promote holistic health and wellbeing. Building on the work of Rx: Community, a made-in-Ontario social prescribing program that began in 2018 and SITS Rx (Social Inclusion through Social Prescription-OACAO pilot project in 2020-2021), Links2Wellbeing will enable family physicians, nurse practitioners and other allied health providers to link socially isolated older adults with community programs and services offered by Seniors Active Living Centres (SALCs).

The Links2Wellbeing project is the result of a unique partnership between the Alliance for Healthier Communities and the Older Adult Centres’ Association of Ontario (OACAO), powered by an Anonymous Donor. It began in April 2021 and will continue for three years. The project is being developed collaboratively by the two organizations and participating member agencies.

The Alliance for Healthier Communities (Alliance) is a network of over 100 community-governed, team based primary healthcare organizations across Ontario. Alliance member centres are committed to supporting those who face the highest barriers to health and well-being, including marginalized seniors.

The Older Adult Centres’ Association of Ontario (OACAO) provides advocacy, education, networking, and resources to support a network of over 200 community-based older adult centres and seniors serving organizations across the province. As the voice of older adult centres and Seniors Active Living Centres (SALCs), the OACAO supports member centres to come together to unify their efforts towards the development of comprehensive programs and services, to help older adults stay connected and active in their communities.

Links2Wellbeing has started and currently has over two dozen Centres involved in the project. Participating organizations have been invited to join both a provincial community of practice and a national social prescribing network to share learnings and develop best practices together.

Benefits of Social Prescribing include (but not limited to):

  • Helps with social and community connections and expands the older adult’s network of peer support
  • Healthcare providers are able to use their time more effectively by directing clients to sources that can address their non-medical needs
  • Improves health and well-being
  • Potentially fewer visits to hospital emergency departments
  • Barriers are reduced as older adults are empowered to identify their needs and values and to connect with what matters most to them
  • Provides hope there is a way and a future
  • Potential to resolve issues (loneliness)

Benefits to your Centre include (but not limited to):

  • Opportunity to engage volunteers
  • Support for community outreach
  • Building Membership
  • Creating new referral pathways
  • Helping to connect isolated older adults who may have not connected to your centre (socio-economic barriers)
  • Micro-grants available for participating centres (tech start-up funds and yearly funds to subsidize clients)

 

The Links2Wellbeing Program is open to Senior Active Living Centres and OACAO member centres.  The call for Centres for Fall 2022 is now open!

There is no formal application deadline however there are a limited number of spots available each year. Please email Dena Silverberg, Project Coordinator, Links2Wellbeing, Social Prescribing for Older Adults at dena@oacao.org to set up a meeting to learn more about the project!