You are on page 1of 11

Is volunteerism a ‘rural limit’

to age-friendly communities?

Is volunteerism a ‘rural limit’ to age-friendly communities? <a href=M ar k Ski nner, PhD Director, Trent Centre for Aging & Society Associate Professor, Geography markskinner@trentu.ca " id="pdf-obj-0-9" src="pdf-obj-0-9.jpg">
 
<a href=M ar k Ski nner, PhD " id="pdf-obj-0-13" src="pdf-obj-0-13.jpg">

Mark Skinner, PhD

Director, Trent Centre for Aging & Society Associate Professor, Geography markskinner@trentu.ca

 
 

Introduction

Introduction “Volunteering is all we have, but it may not be enough …” Community Care C
 
 

“Volunteering is all we have, but it may not be enough…”

 

Community Care Coordinator, rural Ontario

1. Volunteer-based support is essential for rural aging

2. Rural limits to volunteerism are too often ignored

3. Policies must account for paradox of older volunteers

 
…Ontario’s aging rural communities PETERBOROUGH
…Ontario’s aging rural communities
PETERBOROUGH
…essential role of volunteers “Community Care hinges on the support and dedication of over 900 volunteers,
…essential role of volunteers
“Community Care hinges on the
support and dedication of over
900 volunteers, who donate their
time and expertise to help over
4,000 clients in the City and
County of Peterborough remain
independent in their own homes
…where they want to be! Without
volunteers, none of this would be
possible.”
Community Care Peterborough
(www.commcareptbo.org)

…older volunteers, informal carers

 
…older volunteers, informal carers % of Community Care Volunteers * 67% also performed informal support (driving,
 

% of Community Care Volunteers

* 67% also performed informal support (driving, cleaning, cooking, shopping) more than once a week for

* 67% also performed informal support (driving, cleaning, cooking, shopping) more than once a week for past decade

Peterborough Community Care Volunteer Survey (Skinner et al. 2008, www.trentu.ca/geography)

 
…yet, is volunteerism sustainable? “We’re burning-out our volunteers left and right, most of our drivers are
…yet, is volunteerism sustainable?
“We’re burning-out our volunteers left and right,
most of our drivers are only one step away
from becoming clients themselves”
Meals on Wheel Coordinator, rural Ontario

…a ‘rural paradox’ has emerged

…a ‘rural paradox’ has emerged “ There’s a sense that in small, rural communities where we
 

There’s a sense that in small, rural communities where we don’t provide services, people know one another, they know their neighbours, and even if they live miles and miles away, they know people through church, so services can be provided at an informal level at the very least, but I’m not convinced that’s really the case

Health care provider, rural Ontario

 
…potential to learn from local success “The seniors club has done so much to improve accessibility
…potential to learn from local success
“The seniors club has done so much to improve
accessibility and active lifestyles to promote the
community for retirement-living…”
Community leader, northern BC
…leadership from older volunteers? Sustainable Communities Older People Volunteerism Aging Places Aging at Home Skinner (forthcoming)
…leadership from older volunteers?
Sustainable Communities
Older People
Volunteerism
Aging Places
Aging at Home
Skinner (forthcoming) in Voluntary Sector Review

…concluding comments

…concluding comments • Key policy implication is one of caution; be mindful of ‘rural limits’ to
 

Key policy implication is one of caution; be mindful of ‘rural limits’ to volunteerism

Opportunity to learn from successes & failures in overcoming barriers to volunteering, aging at

home & community sustainability (research)

Time to move beyond age-friendly idyll to ask, what kind of aging community can we be?

 
…thank you “Let’s be a pioneer in showing that an aging population is nothing to be
…thank you
“Let’s be a pioneer in showing that an aging
population is nothing to be afraid of
...
Prof. Jim Struthers, Trent University (2012)
markskinner@trentu.ca
www.trentu.ca/