Enhanced Well-being through an Accessible and Affordable
Intergenerational Video Conferencing Network
linking Seniors and Students

Dr. Marie-Madeleine Bernard, MD
PACE 2000 International Foundation

Dr. Joan McComas, PhD PT
Director, Physiotherapy Program, University of Ottawa

Mathias Fruhwirth, P.Eng
PACE 2000 International Foundation

Seniors living in the community face isolation as real as the isolation described by those living in rural communities. Their isolation is based, however not on geography but rather on age segregation and the physical limitations accompanying age. This isolation occurs at a time in their lives when increased interaction particularly with younger people, would enhance the seniors? health and well-being. The Information Age, embodied by broad-band digital technologies, promises to help overcome this isolation. The PACE 2000 International Foundation, a registered charity in Canada, has implemented several intergenerational video-conferencing pilot projects in Canada's National Capital Region.

The programs included three video conference based pilot projects in the fields of intergenerational: education, recreation and medical home support. These projects have been evaluated in three separate reports. The educational project participants included the French immersion students of a rural anglophone high school and francophone seniors in Ottawa. The recreational project included seniors with their student partners. The students benefited from the interaction with the seniors while also facilitating the use of video-conference technologies by the seniors. The medical home support project featured the PACE 2000 Video-Conference Based Goniometer which consists of a computer aided and managed tool for the measurement of joint angles of orthopaedic surgery patients. A special event was held on December 24, 1998 Christmas Eve, linking a paediatric hospital in Paris France, (Hopital de la Croix Rouge, Margency) with the residents of the Centre d?accueil Champlain in Ottawa.

A hallmark of the PACE 2000 projects is the use of low cost video-conference systems with a custom designed user interface. These low cost systems allowed for the deployment of many systems while the custom interface allowed the sophisticated technologies to be used by inexperienced and even fragile seniors.

This paper was presented at the 1999 Conference on "Using Broadband Community Network in Ontario". It summarizes the results of the pilot projects and reports on the effectiveness of adapting currently available video conferencing technologies in achieving those results.

A paper reporting on the results of the VCBG has been produced

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