Navigating turbulence: Community workers, older adults and policy makers on surviving the pandemic  

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Shannon Hebblethwaite, Concordia University
Kim Sawchuk, Concordia University
Meghan Joy, Concordia University
Tracie Swim, WIN Intergenerational Network, ExtraMiles Senior Visiting Program
Christina Haralanova, Concordia University
Samuel Thulin, Concordia University
Isabela Cossio Bedoya, Concordia University
Laurie Fournier, Concordia University
Kate Marr-Laing, Concordia University


Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé (FRQS)
Fondation Luc Maurice
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

Research Areas:

Aging and community-driven data

This series of five video capsules, produced by Kim Sawchuk and Samuel Thulin, delves into the experiences of older adults, community sector workers and policy makers who provided and received community support and care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their stories of living through the pandemic paint a picture of resilience amid hardship, harnessing opportunities, adapting to rapid technological change, and facing unprecedented—and sometimes unexpected—needs in the community. Through a blend of candid interviews and evocative imagery, the video series captures the realities of navigating a landscape in flux during a time of crisis. This series is developed as part of a broader research project led by Shannon Hebblethwaite titled Non-profit organization and COVID-19: Understanding, mapping, and enhancing community care for older adults in Montreal in a post-pandemic world”.

Researchers conducted 32 in-depth interviews with non-profit staff, older people who participated in the programs and services provided by non-profit organizations, and local policymakers who worked with and funded initiatives in this sector. Short audio quotes were taken from these interviews and weaved together into 10-to-15-minute soundscapes, with musical and ambient interludes created directly through audio transformations of the voices. Contemplative video footage provides a space for reflection on the experiences shared by interviewees.

Each capsule tells a story centered on a specific theme. “Adapting to Chaos” focuses on the many immediate changes non-profit organizations and older adults needed to implement in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Zoom Zoom” delves into the challenges of adapting to mostly online forms of communication, and the sudden omnipresence of Zoom software in our lives. “Mental Health Matters” showcases the essential role non-profit sector workers played in supporting older people throughout the pandemic, as well as the emotional distress that both groups experienced. And finally, “Feeling It: Social Isolation and Social Exclusion” consists of two capsules—one from the perspective of older adults, and one from the perspective of non-profit organizations—exploring the social isolation that was exacerbated by public health policies instituted by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments at the height of the pandemic.  

These video capsules provide opportunities for AiD to share their research with a broader public, including the non-profit workers profiled here.  

Links to the final video capsules coming soon!