A comprehensive survey of Niagara-on-the-Lake residents has launched this week to try to determine what people’s housing needs and desires are as they age.
The detailed online survey is a key research tool that an ad hoc committee of concerned residents hopes will outline people’s future needs.
The committee, headed by Cindy Grant, wants to understand the evolving requirements of seniors and what they need to maintain their quality of life as they get older.
“Niagara-on-the-Lake has one of the highest percentages of aging seniors in the country, many of whom wish to remain in our community, but the options are limited,” Grant said when the project was first announced.
She hopes the information gleaned from the survey can help the town, developers, senior housing companies and others meet the needs of the community.
But first the research has to determine what those needs are – if any.
Two prominent Canadian research professionals who live in town, Steve Ferley and Michael Ennamorato, were recruited to design the survey and ensure the poll can independently collect information on NOTL’s senior housing needs.
No personal identifying details will be collected and all responses will be anonymous.
As well, the group has partnered with the Niagara College School of Business, Prof. Nick Farnell and a team of graduate students in the business analytics program to collect and analyze the results, in conjunction with Ferley and Ennamorato.
Details of the survey are being published in The Lake Report and NOTL Local, posters will be put up around town and business cards promoting the research will be distributed to remind people to complete the survey.
Ennamorato emphasized that it is crucial to approach the research with no preconceived notions about what people want.
Everyone is different and even individuals in the same household might have differing opinions, he noted, adding that more than 10,000 people in NOTL are 55 or older.
“The whole point is trying to get an objective view of the landscape and from that, come to some conclusions” from which some solutions might be derived, he said in an interview.
“But let’s base it on an objective point of view.”
It’s entirely possible that people’s concerns might not match the committee’s or town leaders’ or housing advocates’ expectations. Up till now, the only available data has been purely anecdotal – comments and suppositions based on conversations or people’s perceived needs.
It is hoped the survey is able to clarify things.
“For instance, what trade-offs are people willing to make? What’s more important if I can’t have everything?” Ennamorato said.
“What will I gravitate to? Will I stay in my community and accept a less-than-optimal housing option for myself?”
That might work for some.
But others might expect “a complete turnkey operation, close to all amenities, close to the highway and access to anything they need,” he said.
He hopes to obtain 400 or more responses for the survey, which takes about 15 minutes to complete.
“Once the survey is closed, we will work with Niagara College on applying standard research industry techniques to ‘clean’ the database with the objective of identifying inconsistencies, missing data and duplication and, where possible, using logic to take corrective action,” Ennamorato said.
How the research will work:
- The survey will be available through The Lake Report and the NOTL Local using QR codes to connect to the online research.
- Provisions have been made for those without internet access to complete the survey at the NOTL library.
- The survey is available now through early January.
- No personally identifying information will be collected. All data will be anonymous, kept confidential and protected by industry-standard data protection and security mechanisms.
- Information will be reported in aggregate form only.