Seniors Preston County
Seniors Preston County
A susequent research project and set of publications examined the connection between place, food security, and seniors. I obtained internal funding from the University and the School of Public Health to examine the food access issues of seniors.
In the case of West Virginia, Seniors are the fastest growing population. Further, because of issues with drug addiction and arrests, grandparents are often the only members of the family unit able to care for children left alone when parents are overtaken by addiction.
Working in Preston County, close in proximity to but at a higher elevation than Monongalia County, I employed a model of community-based participatory research (CBPR) built around visual and narrative storytelling to study food security with Seniors.
Seniors met over a series of months to discuss and then take photos representative of their food issues. The project resulted in a video recording of the seniors telling stories about food security.
Further, a photo voice exhibition was presented portraying the photos and narratives of the Seniors. The exhibition featured a simulation of grocery store aisles built by a local artist to portray one of the problems Seniors reported with retail accommodation. This problem as highlighted in photos and narratives described how retailers did not account for the mobility issues of Seniors unable to reach high or low for groceries or transport groceries to vehicles once they concluded their shopping.
Again, the five A’s of food access were used to grade the food security issues of Seniors in Preston County and portrayed as a report card.
The subsequent publication examined how the photo and narrative story telling device of photovoice, guided the development of a cohesive narrative by the Seniors. Co-constructing food access issues: Older adults in a rural food environment in West Virginia develop a photonarrative.
Photovoice facilitates co-creation enabling a researcher that is outside the community to open up a conversation where community members and researchers may explore person-place dynamics, document environmental strengths, assess complex conditions, and evaluate policies that influence the lives of the community (Wang, C. and M.A. Burris, Photovoice: Concept, methodology, and use for participatory needs assessment. Health education & behavior, 1997. 24(3): p. 369-387).
The 5 A’s of Food Access (Andress & Hallie, 2017).
Andress, L., & Hallie, S. S. (2017). Co-constructing food access issues: Older adults in a rural food environment in West Virginia develop a photonarrative. Cogent Medicine, 1309804. doi:10.1080/2331205X.2017.1309804
In subsequent research and analysis of the Senior’s photo and narrative storytelling data I examined how the problems depicted in the photovoice could be mapped onto a social ecological model. The rationale for this secondary analysis of the photovoice data was to elevate the narratives and photos from the Seniors into systems, institutional, and policy related recommendations.
I wanted to demonstrate how a CBPR project could move through several stages to become actionable policy, program, and systems objectives starting with (1)
“on-the-ground” discourse and dialogue among the relevant population; (2) followed by the development of a cohesive narrative; (3) resulting in a forward-facing public declaration of issues; (4) that can become actionable solutions.
The issues depicted by the Seniors in the photos, narratives, and video recording were mapped onto the social ecological model. This allowed the viewer to see and compare different social, political, and economic arrangements with downstream medical and individual activities that could be employed to address the problems.