Accessing informal and formal social supports among older immigrants in Canada: A mixed-methods approach

Authors: Selasi Dorkenoo*, Ryerson University, Lu Wang, Ryerson University, Sepali Guruge, Ryerson University, Margaret Walton-Roberts, Wilfred Laurier University, Bharati Sethi, University of Western Ontario, Denise Spitzer, University of Ottawa
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Immigration/Transnationalism
Keywords: Spatial access, social support, older adults, immigrants
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Older adults are the fastest growing and a highly culturally diverse age group in Canada. While immigrants represent 21% of Canada’s total population, they represent 30% of its older population (65+). Social isolation is common among older immigrants, which limits their participation in community and civil society, increases income insecurity, affects health and wellbeing and increase their risk of elder abuse. The poster presents important findings from an interdisciplinary project that examines the patterns and factors of accessing informal and formal social supports among older immigrants residing in Toronto, London, Waterloo and Ottawa, Canada. This community-based project employs a mixed-methods approach to engage stakeholders (older immigrants, their families, and providers of social, settlement, health, legal, housing, and transportation services). Firstly, spatial analyses are conducted to explore spatial gaps in social service provision to older immigrants from various language-specific communities (e.g., Arabic, Mandarin-Chinese, Spatial), using data from 2016 census and Toronto 211 website. Potential spatial accessibility is calculated using 2SFCA (2-step floating catchment area) model. Secondly, questionnaire survey conducted among older immigrants reveals individual behaviour in using different types of services. Thirdly, data from the focus groups conducted among various stakeholders are linked to the spatial and statistical analyses to foster our understanding on how individual and neighbourhood contexts affect the availability and use of social supports. Qualitative GIS and geo-visualization will highlight any discrepancies between calculated and revealed spatial access to social service locations. This mixed-methods approach is innovative and provides important methodological lessons.

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