Report- TCA LTC Part 2 Town Hall




Summary Report – Long-Term Care Town Hall Series (Part 2)

Advocating for Aging in Place

Part 2 of the Town Hall Series on Long-Term Care was held on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Registration for the event exceeded just over 250 registrants with approximately half attending the meeting. The event was opened by TCA President, Tashia Edwards and moderated by Toronto City Councillor Josh Matlow (St. Paul’s- Ward 12).

Part 1 introduced the town hall series and featured interactive, stakeholder-focused break-out groups to gather ideas on innovative strategies to advocate for positive change to long-term care in Ontario. To continue the earlier momentum from Part 1, Part 2 of the town hall series focused on advocating for aging in place and how this can be achieved through Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs)

The meeting was divided into two sections. The first section consisted of presentations by a panel, while the second section opened the meeting to Q&A from the attendees.

The Panelists were Dr. Catherine Donnelly, Director of the Health Services and Policy Research Institute at Queen’s University, Simone Parniak, Oasis Research Project Research Manager and Sue Lantz Founder and Managing Director of Collaborative Aging. Christine McMillan the Founder of Oasis Seniors Support Living in Kingston was unable to be present due to technical difficulties.  

What are NORCs?

NORCs – Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities – refer to older adults living in congregate settings, be it an apartment complex, retirement residence or multiple living dwelling. Many people are not aware that they reside in a NORC. These often organic and unintended colonies keep their residents connected to their local communities, leading to improved quality of life, better health outcomes and sustained well-being.  

In Ontario, NORC programs are known as Oasis.

What is Oasis?

Oasis is a program created by older adult community members who live in NORCs. Oasis provides services, supports and activities to older adults enabling them to stay in their own homes longer and age in place.

Christine McMillan founded the first Oasis 11 years ago in Kingston as a pilot project. It is now a permanently funded program.

The History of the Oasis Model in Ontario

The story of Christine McMillan’s founding of the Kingston Oasis is a serendipitous one. It began over a decade ago, when Christine was President of the Kingston Frontenac Council on Aging. An announcement had been made that the Ontario Ministry of Health was going to open 96 more long-term care beds in Kingston. She questioned why older adults who just needed a little more assistance in activities of daily living (ADL) should be removed from their homes and communities. She found allies in the Kingston Care Access Centre (CCAC) and in the Queen’s Centre for Studies in Primary Care. CCAC identified an apartment building[1] where there were eleven people on a waiting list for long-term care. They were reasonably mobile, but needed some assistance in ADL.

For Us, By Us!

The help provided through Home Care was viewed by many of the residents as sporadic and inadequate. An arrangement was made to meet with this group of older adults to hear their suggestions on what they needed to enable them to stay in their own apartments and to live independently. The group was clear that they wanted access to personal support services, when they needed it, and wanted the freedom to decide what other activities would bring them together as a community. A high priority for the group was the institution of congregate dining several times a week. It was determined that this would improve nutrition and increase social interaction among fellow residents. The apartment building that housed the residents was owned by Homestead Land Holding Ltd. Homestead welcomed the suggestions and generously offered space within the building to create a Seniors Lounge. 

Seed Funding

The federal New Horizons for Seniors Program[2] provided approximately $20,000 in initial funding, Kingston City Health Community Fund provided an additional $10,000, and the Kingston United Way gave an unsolicited donation of $40,000. With $70,000 in total funding, the Oasis pilot project was launched, and from that the Oasis Seniors Supportive living program was instituted.

The Oasis Evaluation and Expansion Project

Dr. Connelly and Simone Parniak are part of a team working with McMaster University on a four-year-long research project, which looks at the viability and long-term sustainability of NORCs. Dr. Connelly during her presentation showed clusters of NORCs around Ontario,

demonstrating both the geographic diversity – rural and urban – and the ethnic origins of the populations. The Oasis Expansion project has two primary objectives: to assist groups to set up Oasis projects in their communities and to ascertain why there may be barriers in doing so.

No two Oasis are the same. In sharp contrast to the Kingston Oasis, Simone Parniak described the Quinte West Oasis Community which is located in a large trailer park.  A group of older adult residents got together and hired a part-time coordinator to help plan activities such as coffee cafes where people meet and support each other. 

What all Oasis have in common is giving older adults empowerment in decision making. It is the older adult residents who decide which programs and services they will receive. 

More Information and Resources

○      UHN OpenLab Oasis Storytelling Website

○      Case Studies on NORCs with Supportive Services in North America

○      Oasis Expansion Project

○      Oasis Manual: A Guide to Developing an Oasis Program in Your Community


Panelists Contact Information

Dr. Catherine Donnelly


Christine McMillan


Simone Parniak


Sue Lantz

[1] Bowling Green 2 apartment in Kingston, Ontario

[2] New Horizons for Seniors Program – ~ 140 Merton Street, ON. M4S 1A1  ~ 416-630-7000  


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