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Pathways for a Secure Future: GEF’s Framework for Sustainability and Wellbeing in Seniors Housing

August 28, 2023

GEF Seniors Housing is a registered charity and the largest provider of subsidized seniors’ housing in Alberta. The organization came to DIALOG to create a Sustainability Framework (scroll down at this link, or use this one for the full PDF) that would advance their purpose into the future. “After 60-plus years of operations, GEF Seniors Housing Board and senior leadership were reflecting on how we wanted to position the organization into the future,” says Shanika Donalds, Director of Housing and Client Services for GEF. “Recognizing that we deliver a meaningful service to a vulnerable population and are funded in part by different levels of government, we examined how the organization could remain relevant and responsive to addressing the needs of current and future clients, staff, partners and external collaborators.” 

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GEF was attracted to DIALOG for a number of reasons. The DIALOG team’s leadership on the Community Wellbeing Framework, an evidence-based methodology the practice developed with the Conference Board of Canada, was an important element. Also, the practice’s deep and broad experience helping clients address ESG goals, made the team a good fit for this collaboration. 

Donalds says that the work with DIALOG was a collaboration, through which “we developed a Sustainability Framework that provided stretch goals while remaining pragmatic.” Rooting the Framework in the pragmatic, including anticipated costs, was a critical feature. “During our collaboration with DIALOG, their team guided and encouraged us to think about different aspects of our organization and how these elements were tied to a more sustainable future, while allowing space for the expertise that we brought to the process,” she says.  

Shanika Donalds, Director of Housing and Client Services for GEF and Michael Mousa, Sustainability Consultant at DIALOG

DIALOG’s Michael Mousa says that the Framework outlines a path to advance sustainability goals over the next five years. “It includes clear principles, performance indicators, and strategies using a three-pillar approach: social, environmental, and economic sustainability.” 

“Throughout the journey,” Mousa notes, “the GEF team continuously emphasized the importance of social sustainability and understood that the housing they provide is an essential element that contributes to their community’s quality of life. They really understood the impact they have on their seniors, staff, city, and the environment.”

DIALOG partner Charles Marshall notes that the framework, delivered by a passionate, diverse, multi-studio DIALOG team, is “innovative, and, as far as we can tell, a first for non-profit in the seniors sector. It is positioned to guide this organization but it can also be an inspiration for the entire senior living realm.”