Healthy Aging in Northern Alberta

About the Project

Community organizations that provide services to seniors are well suited to address frailty. These organizations serve tens of thousands of seniors annually, and have lots of experience with issues faced by seniors living at home. The Northern Alberta AVOID Frailty project, led by Sage Seniors Association and Dr. Tammy O’Rourke, will partner with community members and organizations to develop a Regional Centre for Healthy Aging (RCHA). The Northern Alberta AVOID team has deep knowledge of healthy aging, frailty, and project management. The development of an RCHA in Northern Alberta will provide a framework through which Sage Seniors Association can share knowledge and build capacity for seniors centres to spread the AVOID Frailty program.

This work builds on the previous and current work of Sage to facilitate the shift in senior care from health and facility-based services to community, and develop the infrastructure needed to support behaviour changes. The host organization, Sage Seniors Association, is a leader in the delivery of health, social, and recreational services to seniors. Sage is the ideal hub for an RCHA as they have established partnerships within the community, and expert frailty-focused knowledge, including process, structure and outcome knowledge from the development of an academic-led Nurse Practitioner clinic. More recently, Sage implemented the DRAGONFLY (builDing Resilience And RespondinG tO SeNior FraiLtY) project. The RCHA will engage, enable and empower community members and senior serving organizations in Northern Alberta to to coordinate assistance for seniors living in the community.

Anticipated Findings

A new tool will be available to health and social organizations in Alberta. We will have an educational program to continue providing knowledge to people working with seniors to identify and respond to frailty. We also expect that seniors will be healthier from being part of this project and be able to live at home longer the way they choose.

Project Team

Principal Investigator:

Tammy O’Rourke, PhD, NP — Athabasca University/Sage Seniors Association


Brian Dompe — Sage Seniors Association
Beth Mansell, MPH — Sage Seniors Association
Anne Summach, NP — Sage Seniors Association


Shanika Donalds, PhD (c) — GEF Seniors Housing
Karen McDonald, MBA — Sage Seniors Association
Nicole Smith, MEd — Sage Seniors Association

Keywords: social prescribing; interprofessional care; frailty screening; geriatric assessment; healthy aging; virtual care; quality improvement

Background & Rationale


Seniors living in community want to age at home, but sometimes they can’t. When seniors start to decline, we label them as frail, we can reduce frailty through a variety of activities.


When we assess seniors we focus on their health needs, with little attention to their social needs (things like access to healthy foods and social activities). We need assessment tools to better identify both types of needs and direct actions to decrease frailty.

Hypothesis & Research Plan


In this study, we will further develop an assessment tool which targets both the medical and social needs of seniors. We believe that these assessments and activities will help seniors be healthier as they age.

Research Plan

This study will take place in Northern Alberta. We will reach out to aging experts to check with them to see what they think of the tool. We will educate staff and volunteers at seniors centers to use the tool and seek feedback on that process. We will engage seniors in completing these assessments and activities and measure how their lives are affected.

  1. Test the Healthy Aging Asset Index with seniors.
  2. Provide services meet the needs that we find during the healthy aging assessments.
  3. Train staff and volunteers in healthy aging assessment and support.
  4. Educate seniors and community on frailty identification and avoidance.