Our Students

Our Students

Qualities of the Gerontology Program

This program provides students with the qualities and skills they need to work in the social service field working with older adults.


February 2020 | Amica - West Vancouver 

Take a moment to read what our students have to say about the Gerontology program.

Julia Savalli Class of 2020

I registered for this program as I was working part-time providing in-home support for older people and wanted to gain a better understanding of how to support older adults in my community. Langara’s program is the only one of its kind in western Canada that focuses on studying older adults and aging for the purpose of enhancing service provision for this population.

I would say it is an excellent program that provides relevant up-to-date information by highly qualified instructors who have current experience in their relative fields. I have liked the small class sizes, the varied topics related to the field, learning about the context of aging in our society, how grassroots organizations are providing many necessary community services for older adults…I could go on!

For my 6-month field placement, I completed a split placement with one day a week at the Alzheimer Resource Centre in Vancouver, and another with the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) School of Nursing doing a research project on building community supports for people living with dementia. I enjoyed the conversations I had with people who called the Alzheimer Society, as they helped me develop an understanding of the unique needs of people living with dementia and their care partners, as well as learning about our health care system and available community supports. In my practicum at UBC, I learned about building capacity at the community level, with a current focus on asset mapping.

I have gained an immense amount of knowledge about how people age from a biopsychosocial framework and how individuals’ experiences of aging are highly dependent on a wide variety of factors. I see opportunities working in different types of seniors housing, support programs and services run by neighbourhood houses and community centres, or as part of a support team within one of the Health Authorities. I hope to continue my studies part-time at SFU as well as find part-time work in the field.

Sheetal Dhir Class of 2020

What captured my interest was the fact that the program is new and emerging, focusing on the diverse needs of older adults. The population trends in aging, where for the first time in history, there will be a surge of older adults compared to teenagers.  At the time when I applied to the program, I was in pursuit of further enhancing my education. I was looking for a program that would support and further build on my experience within the healthcare industry.

Reflecting back on the application process of this program, I consider myself quite fortunate and grateful. Prior to this program, I was gaining hands-on experience within the healthcare industry, specifically in an upscale assisted living and independent living setting.  If I were to recommend this program to prospective students, or colleagues, I would say that certainly, the program has richness, and great value by gaining specialized knowledge within the field of gerontology. This program equips one to gain experience at an individual, familial and community level.

What I appreciated most about the program was that our instructors and the program coordinator were extremely supportive in terms of seeking guidance and answering questions to our inquires. I also enjoyed the fact that our cohort was very tight-knit.

My colleague and I completed our field placement within the health authority, Vancouver Coastal Health. Within this setting we worked on a 2 year pilot project called, “Come Alive” in partnership with Emily Carr University's Health Design Lab Team. The focus of this program is to reduce the use of anti-psychotic medications within long-term care homes, while shifting the culture of care across various long-term care homes, in terms of how one can build therapeutic relationships among clients and care providers.

At a personal level, I gained theoretical knowledge and insight when it comes to interacting with older adults. I also gained appreciation of the contributions that older adults have made on a societal level such aspects: passing down of knowledge and wisdom, economic growth, caring for adult children and grandchildren.

Due to the nature and diversity of this program, there are a wide range of employment opportunities such as: life enrichment, education, recreation and leisure, community support, residential care, palliative care, health and wellness.

Rita Horta Class of 2020

What interested me about the program was the possibility of learning more about the gerontology universe, and how to assist older adults with care, respect, professionalism, and dignity. I chose this program over other programs because working with older adults is a personal calling. I was always interested in social service and I have dedicated myself to seeking equity, and the program was a perfect fit for me. I was enrolled in a Family Studies program before I applied to the program.

If I were to recommend this program to friends, I would say I believe that this program provides high-quality and engaging information, preparing students for a growing field. The program provides diversified knowledge about the aging process, inviting students to critically think about how older adults are portrayed in society, expanding our horizons and providing frameworks to understand and navigate rich and complex systems. I also recommend this program so that everyone has the opportunity to have a more balanced look at the aging process and appreciate older adults and their unique universe.

What I liked most about the program was the vast range of information that is covered in class and the opportunity to apply it during practicum. It was an enriching experience. I completed my field placement at Amica West Vancouver, a senior living residence. It is difficult to choose some of the projects I worked on in my practicum that I found the most inspirational and fulfilling since all projects contributed to my knowledge and growth as a professional. However, I cherished the ones in which I had more interaction with residents, where I could build trusting and respectful relationships, making residents feel welcomed, respected, and heard. Besides the theoretical knowledge in the field, I gained experience, learned to navigate the aging process, and to respect and meet older adults at the current stage they are at within this process. I also learned about myself. I learned about my limitations and biases, how to recognize and mitigate them to work with ethics and professionalism.

I see a range of opportunities in this field for myself and others because, in addition to any corporate culture, a gerontology student values older adults and aims to enhance their quality of life and potential. I highlight the specialized attention, ideas and programs that can reform the environment in which they live, bringing engagement among team workers, changing communication and interaction. A social service worker with a specialization in gerontology brings humanization and respect, adding values, care, and critical knowledge in society and employment contexts.

The sky is the limit for those who have their hearts beating in what they love. Today I know more than anything that working with older adults is in my DNA. At this moment my aspiration is to start a job in the field and improve myself with further courses and continue my studies until I get a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

Claudia Cruz Class of 2020

What caught my interest in this program was that it specialized in preparing graduates to enhance the lives of older adults. The reason I chose the program was because I saw the possibility in being involved in helping to enrich the lives of older adults. I would say that this program is for those who want to make a difference in an older adult’s life. This is a program where at times your heart may be broken to observe the experiences of some older adults, however through your education and training you acquire the skills and insight to develop rapport and engage in relationships that value and support individuals to enrich their lives in many ways, even if it’s just putting a simple smile on their face.

The aspects I liked most about the program were the friendships built in the classroom and within the practicum. These are people with similar hearts. These are people who I share a vision with, and we understand each other. The ability to apply firsthand what we learn in specific classes to hands-on experiences during practicum was invaluable.

My practicum was with Cottage Hospice, which is part of the Bloom Group Organization. Hospice care refers to physical, emotional, and spiritual care offered to people who are living with or dying from advanced illness. The focus of care in this setting is on providing comfort and improving quality of life. The legacy project I was involved with during the practicum was both inspirational and fulfilling. This project involves working with Hospice patients to create an audio recording to share with their loved ones. Within this process, I had the opportunity to hear a person’s story, what they’ve loved about their life, and what they’ve enjoyed the most. It was incredibly rewarding to give the family members a little something to keep after their loved one passed away, so when they are missing their loved one, they can go back to the recording and hear their loved one speaking directly to them.

I have gained knowledge in so many different aspects by taking this program. The most obvious aspect is knowledge about the firsthand experiences of older adults and how we can never do enough to better involve those who have been fighting discrimination and the stigma that results from ageist beliefs in society. This is very critical as everyone will experience this as they age. I have also gained personal growth and have changed my personal view of life and aging. I was completely paranoid of aging and now it seems that being educated about it has made me ready to embrace it with pride. The same knowledge has helped me to better prepare for when my own family reaches an older age, and how I can better help them.

Gerontology is a growing field, so we will utilize the advocating skills learned in the program with the older adults we serve, as well as for ourselves as we age. Our opportunities will be endless, depending on how we profile and promote ourselves and our knowledge. I will seek employment within an organization that allows me to grow professionally and share my beliefs of the need to go over and beyond for older adults who are in need of support. I want to work for an organization that has not fallen into a rigid or routine practice that goes over and beyond to meet the needs of older adults to the best of their ability.