(As taken from the Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities: A Guide )
1. Committee Phase—Forming an Age-Friendly Committee/Team
One way to begin the process of building an age-friendly community is to involve multiple stakeholders, both public and private including local and provincial government representatives who are well-placed to encourage collaborative work in this area. These stakeholders can include, but are not limited to, elected officials and senior staff at the community level and representatives from the private, business and volunteer sectors. Seniors and seniors-serving organizations are also key players in developing an age-friendly committee. They can advise on what works and does not work for them. Moreover, they can offer ideas and innovative solutions from their unique perspective. Of course, care must be taken to include seniors of varying ages, gender, cultures and abilities—this will ensure a broad and inclusive perspective of their needs, views and suggestions.
2. Assessment Phase—A Community Evaluation
Once established, a local age-friendly community /team can carry out the important task of assessing the age-friendliness of their community using the WHO and Canadian guides and check lists available in the resource section of this section. An assessment of the assets of the community, what contributes to age-friendliness in the community and what does not is often a good place to begin. Ideally, a comprehensive assessment helps to identify what a community is already doing well, including how initiatives and programs support an age-friendly community. Results of an assessment of what services, programs and other initiatives exist in the community can serve as a focal point for discussions and expand the dialogue to include many groups. Moreover, it can contribute to the development of a “baseline” for measuring progress and for helping set priorities for action and change.
3. Planning Phase—Determining Challenges and Opportunities
Using results of a completed assessment, the committee/team is in a good position to identify assets, barriers and strengths of the community, as well as issues that need to be addressed through planning. For example, the planning team can identify ways to build on the strengths, prioritize issues identified and develop recommendations for action which can, in turn, feed into the development of strategies, action plans, timelines, and an analysis of the resources for implementation. Local stakeholder involvement ensures continued community support for both plans and action. Ideally, the strengths and related roles of various stakeholders would be articulated in the plan. One or more “champions” may be identified as a useful mechanism to help build momentum for planning and action. These individual or group champions may represent seniors, media, and business people and others in the community well positioned to help influence and promote successful engagement of the community.
4. Implementation Phase—Putting the Plan into Action
Implementation of the community plan can also be carried out in a variety of ways, depending on the needs of the community, the established priorities, the financial and human resources available, and the scope and nature of input from stakeholders. Implementation can be achieved through small steps that can be done by local community members, or through more major initiatives that require resources and contributions from a wider area (e.g., provincial/territorial governments) and the collaborative efforts of a range of groups.
5. Monitoring Progress
By including clear and measurable goals and targets in implementation plans, communities can monitor their progress toward increased age-friendliness. Monitoring also enables planners to re-evaluate plans and adjust priorities and targets at predetermined intervals. Ideally, monitoring is an ongoing process.