Supporting Healthy Aging with Peer Education and Support (SHAPES)

Project Lead

Lead: Dr. Adrian Wagg and Dr. Saima Rajabali, Division of Geriatric Medicine, University of Alberta in collaboration with Edmonton seniors centres.


Dr. Adrian Wagg

Dr. Saima Rajabali


There is evidence that self-management and an increase in health literacy leads to an increased sense of empowerment and an improvement in health related quality of life for seniors. This study therefore proposes an innovative partnership between seniors’ community organizations and clinical faculty at the University of Alberta to provide peer delivered education and support for seniors living in the community.


Project Summary

Through the use of peer educators, the project plans to focus on healthy brain, healthy heart and healthy bones through information, discussion, and increased awareness of self-managed care practice and related techniques. This study explores the use of health coaches, drawn from community dwelling seniors, in educating and supporting their peers in healthy aging behaviours and self-management of chronic disease.

Three Edmonton Senior’s Centres serve as clusters, and health coaches were drawn from their membership. The health coaches then commit to the health information training, deliver the workshop and facilitate discussion groups.


Volunteer peer educator Brian, teaching class

  1. Education modules on heart, brain and bone health (interactive health modules)
  2. A Participant handbook and a health coach handbook
  3. Fitbit training guide for participants
  4. An interactive presentation skills session, in collaboration with the Student Success Centre, for the health coaches

Impact and Ultimate Success

Seniors will see a positive change in their own health literacy and behaviours. They will have a greater involvement in their health and greater confidence in talking about and managing their health. This will also benefit clinician- patient interaction and thereby lead to better overall health. In addition, this program will successfully engage and empower older people to deliver sustainable health education.

The results from this study will be fed back to senior’s organizations throughout Edmonton, regardless of their participation in this project, in relevant formats (a multi-media approach). The goal is to enhance uptake of the program and through traditional knowledge transfer routes in the professional and lay press, and via academic publications and presentations.

If this intervention proves effective, we will have established a reliable and feasible intervention that results in a positive change in senior’s health literacy and behaviours. The project has been designed to embed peer educators within the senior’s organizations, with a view to longer term sustainability and spread by adoption of a “train the trainer” approach.