Social Isolation Grants


RTO/ERO Foundation Announces $100,000 in New Grants to address Social Isolation of Seniors

May 17, 2017 – TorontoThe Retired Teachers of Ontario Foundation (RTO/ERO Foundation) announced today the funding of four new projects, valued at $100,000, to address social isolation of older adults across the province. (Read more ...)

Beyond Bones: Building Educational Bridges between Orthopedic Surgery and Geriatric Medicine

Situated at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, the "Orthogeriatrics" rotation brings together orthopedics and geriatrics in a partnership to acquaint Orthopedic Surgery trainees with a holistic Geriatric Medicine lens in approaching complex older patients with broader issues such as  frailty, recurrent falls, cognitive changes, and multiple medical comorbidities and medications requiring judicious management.  

The evaluation project, funded through the RTO/ERO Foundation, aims to complete a rigorous scholarly evaluation of this novel curriculum experience. The goal would be to help disseminate this educational model to other surgical residency programs to include a mandatory geriatric medicine module in their training programs.

Incorporating geriatric medicine training into multiple medical curricula and building a broader capacity to provide geriatric care throughout the health care system is seen as one of the best ways to address the issue of the shortage of geriatricians in Ontario and beyond.

The evaluation project was designed to answer three questions:

  • Does the curriculum increase knowledge & attitudes in geriatrics?
  • How does it affect residents' comfort & behaviors?
  • How can the curriculum be improved for the future?

Adrian Chan, a summer medical student in the program, presented the preliminary findings in August. The results have been positive, showing improvements in knowledge and attitudes among the trainees who completed the geriatrics curriculum.

Observations from project participants...

"The fracture might be the end-point. Often it's all the medical issues that need to be addressed...I think that this is a partnership that is a must as an orthopod." Senior Resident

"There is a lot more ... one-to-one patient time spent from the MDs, which is a change I've seen" (After the training, the charge nurse noticed that residents were spending more time with the patient) Charge Nurse

The Orthogeriatrics Evaluation Project is one of ten active projects across Ontario funded by the RTO/ERO Foundation.


Hamilton Seniors Isolation Impact Plan (HSIIP)

Hamilton is aging.  Seniors as a proportion of population is higher in Hamilton (at 14.9%) than in Ontario as a whole (at 13.6%) or in Canada in general (at 13.7%).  Within the next two decades, the number of seniors living in Hamilton is expected to nearly double.  In the period 2012 to 2017, it is the youngest seniors who will be increasing in number most rapidly.

In 2016, the RTO/ERO Foundation became a Supporting Partner of the Hamilton Seniors Isolation Impact Plan. 

The project is a collaboration between seven community organizations in the Greater Hamilton Area, and aims to create a model that will guide the identification and engagement of isolated seniors in communities across Canada.

The Hamilton Seniors Isolation Impact Plan (HSIIP) will focus initially on seniors in targeted neighbourhoods where risk factors for isolation including living alone, disability, poor health, language barriers, poverty, and lack of access to services and natural supports are most prevalent.   An interactive referral system will support Community, Peer and Hospital Connector Projects and provide the infrastructure for extending our reach beyond the initial target neighbourhoods to the city as a whole.  

At the same time, a participatory research initiative, using an integrated knowledge exchange model,  will identify the best available knowledge, provide guidance to community partners, and co-create innovative solutions for change and knowledge exchange across a range of audiences.

Collaborating Agencies


Project Names

Project Descriptions

AbleLiving & St. Joseph’s Home Care

Hamilton Hospital Based Community Connectors

  • Identifies isolated seniors returning home from a hospital visit, and connects them to community programs and supports

Gilbrea Centre for Studies on Aging

Reducing Senior’s Social Isolation: Linking Community in a Participatory Research Initiative

  • Researches literature, risk factors, evidence and best practice
  • Conducts focus groups and interviews
  • Analyzes current policies and program
  • Co-creates, synthesizes and shares knowledge to improve projects and mobilize public will

Hamilton Council on Aging

Connecting Hamilton’s Initiative to Reduce Social Isolation Among Seniors

  • Performs backbone functions of the Collaborative
  • Facilitates communication and coordinates meetings/activities
  • Ensures projects are on-track and mutually reinforcing

Thrive Group

CareDove: Interactive Community Access & Referral System

  • Develops infrastructure for a new, interactive community referral system using CareDove software

Wesley Urban Ministries

Community Connectors

  • Identifies isolated seniors in the community, and connects them to community programs and supports

YWCA Hamilton

Peer Connectors

  • Identifies, recruits and trains peer advocates
  • Guides peer advocates in helping to find and connect isolated seniors to community programs and supports

The RTO/ERO Foundation is supporting the project with a grant of $50,000 for the creation of a Social Participation Fund that helps seniors with expenses related to accessing services and activities in the community. 

Having a low income puts seniors at greater risk of isolation. The Social Participation Fund helps to address this by ensuring seniors are able to access some of the supports they are referred to through our Care Connectors employed within HSIIP. The Fund covers expenses relating to caregiver relief, program fees, and transportation.