CBSS Community Engagement and Sector Strengthening

Community Engagement

The Community Based Seniors’ Services (CBSS) sector is broad and diverse, and to ensure the work of Healthy Aging by United Way remains relevant and working toward the goals of the sector at large, a number of community accountability and task groups have been convened to guide and support the work on a variety of fronts. Collectively, these  groups are working toward: supporting increased capacity and sustainability of the sector to address the growing needs of BC’s aging population; raising awareness of the breadth and value of the sector; fostering opportunities for communication, coordination, and collaboration; and developing a collective voice on healthy aging and the CBSS sector. These groups include:

The CBSS Leadership Council acts as a consultative body for the United Way’s sector building strategic initiatives. The Council builds on the work of the Raising the Profile Project’s Advisory Committee and Senior’s Reference Group in recognizing the contributions and value of the sector and advocating for increasing the capacity of Community-Based Seniors Services to meet the growing needs of BC aging population, including the identification of and remedies for systemic and emerging policy issues.  CBSS Leadership Council members include managers/executive directors from not-for-profit senior serving agencies, seniors who are volunteer leaders in the sector, and managers/executive directors of municipally delivered seniors services.

The CBSS Municipal Caucus, consisting of locally elected officials and municipal staff, has been convened to champion the CBSS Declaration, partnerships, and support at the local government level. The caucus provides advice and guidance to the BC Community Based Seniors Services Leadership Council and United Way's Healthy Aging staff on working with local governments, regional local government associations, and Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).  It is comprised of local government elected officials and senior staff who share a commitment to promoting and supporting policies and practices that support healthy aging in their communities. Collectively, the Municipal Caucus represents a diversity of municipalities and regional districts throughout BC, including urban, rural, and remote communities of different sizes.

The Healthy Aging Provincial Reference Group brings together policy makers, senior officials, and leaders from across the province, representing key populations and organizations to share information, coordinate initiatives, and explore opportunities for strategic alliances and program alignment.

The BC Seniors Funding Table is a group of funders who are working to coordinate investments, funding models, criterion, evaluation, and the strategic funding direction of the CBSS sector.

CBSS Provincial Working Groups have been created to advance key sector and capacity development priorities for a number of areas identified through Raising the Profile outreach, the 2017 Healthy Aging Summit, and more recent consultation feedback, as well as current interests and efforts of various partners and stakeholders. Current Working Groups include:

  1. Housing
  2. Nutritional Supports
  3. Seniors Community Action Committees 
  4. Rural/Remote Communities
  5. Indigenous Relations
  6. Transportation

These Working Groups are working to identify priorities and develop activities aimed at addressing needs in their subject areas. 

Regional Consultations are undertaken annually for CBSS organizations and others involved in local and regional healthy aging initiatives to network, share information, and learn together. Consultations are an important mechanism for providing updates and gathering input and/or feedback on provincial programs and new initiatives and resources, and for learning about local programs, issues, and opportunities. They also help to build local and regional CBSS networks that are valuable for improving communication and coordination, and fostering collaboration. Information and feedback gleaned from the regional consultations across the province helps to identify emerging trends, issues, and opportunities, and to inform provincial Healthy Aging priorities and program development. Virtual consultations will be taking place between October 2020 and March 2021, and updates on dates and regions covered will be included in the Healthy Aging CORE newsletter. For more information, contact Mike MacNeil at

Provincial Summit on Aging is a biennial gathering of CBSS staff and volunteers, healthy aging researchers, and representatives from government, health authorities, and other relevant agencies. The inaugural Summit on Aging took place in Surrey, BC in November, 2017, and the second Summit was held November, 2019 in Richmond. The Summit is a valuable opportunity to convene sector representatives to explore issues, learn from each other, identify opportunities for coordination and collaboration, and develop strategies and initiate plans for strengthening the sector. The next Provincial Summit on Aging will take place November 2021.

For more information on CBSS Leadership Council, Municipal Caucus, Provincial Reference Group, Provincial Working Groups, Regional Consultations, and Summit, contact Barbara McMillan, Provincial Community Engagement Coordinator, Population Health:

Sector Strengthening

Building a healthy, community- based seniors’ services sector that effectively meets the needs of all older adults includes identifying and addressing gaps in knowledge and skills. To help strengthen the CBSS sector, Healthy Aging by United Way provides a suite of programs to enhance the abilities of the many community organizations we work with across the province. These programs aim to improve an organization’s functioning in an intentional and sustained manner, strengthening their ability to fulfill their mission and have a positive impact on the people and communities they serve.

Project Impact Healthy Aging - This developmental evaluation training program aims to develop in non-profits the ability to undertake credible self-studies of their impact—primarily focused on building capacity within staff teams to implement these self-studies. The program recognizes the power of partnerships, the enrichment of cross-pollination of ideas among like-minded organizations, and the potential inspiration for a sector when exemplars are developed and evaluated. In 2018, Project Impact was offered for the first time specifically for CBSS organizations, and a second CBSS cohort is now underway in 2019. This video highlights their projects.  This book presents the final reports – and the highly compelling insights – produced by the first cohort of Project Impact Healthy Aging students.

Public Policy Institute -  A leadership training program for the non-profit sector characterized by small group training, case studies, and ongoing applied learning through participants' own policy projects. This six-month training program brings together 25 leaders from the BC non-profit sector whose organizations want to better understand and influence the public policy process. Enrollment is open to organizations involved in social or health related services from all regions of the province, and participants attend monthly two-day sessions that explore such topics as evidence, policy options, and engagement, as well as implementation and evaluation.

 Dedicated faculty include Mike Harcourt, former premier of British Columbia, Elizabeth Cull, Ida Goodreau, Dana Hayden, and Liz Whynot, who bring a wealth of real-life public policy experience to the program. Their expertise is complemented by an impressive and diverse array of panelists and guest speakers.

Leadership Fellows - Supporting the ongoing need for strong leaders in the non-profit sector, this leadership development program brings together senior and executive leaders for multiple learning modules to build their capacity for developing leadership in others, thereby extending and amplifying organizational impact. The program is grounded in a developmental and iterative approach to leadership where, over the course of the year, participants unpack how they show up as leaders.


For more information on Project Impact Healthy Aging, Public Policy Institute, and Leadership Fellows, contact Bobbi Symes, Assistant Director, Population Health: