Between summer 2016 and spring 2017, the Partnerships in Aging Program, along with UNC students from Public Health, Social Work, Occupational Therapy, Nursing, and City and Regional Planning assisted Orange County’s Department on Aging to develop the 2017-2022 Master Aging Plan, or MAP. The MAP becomes Orange County’s road map for “all things aging,” including service delivery, funding allocations, and program improvements.
This time, the MAP was organized according to AARP and WHO’s “Age-Friendly Community” model, which highlights eight core domains: community services and health care, transportation, housing, social participation, outdoor spaces and buildings, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, and communication and information. Orange County was the first county in NC to sign on to AARP’s Age-Friendly Community initiative. The goals of the MAP are intended to make Orange County a better place for people of all ages to live.
Using the Age-Friendly Community model, the MAP process involved multiple rounds of outreach. More than 1000 Orange County residents completed a needs assessment survey; Orange County staff and Partnerships in Aging affiliates conducted 14 focus groups at various locations throughout Orange County; more than 30 in-person interviews were conducted with aging services providers, elected and appointed officials, faith-based organizations, and non-profits. Finally, throughout early 2017, bi-weekly work-groups developed goals, objectives and indicators for each domain. The MAP goals truly represent the collective interests, needs, and expertise of a diverse group of stakeholders.
The success of the MAP depends on continued collaboration and community involvement over the next five years. Without the participation of a variety of community members and organizations, an integrated countywide plan will not be successful. Achievement of this plan requires the recognition that we all are aging, that this plan affects all of us, and an age-friendly community benefits our county as a whole. In May, 2017, the Orange County Board of Commissioners formally accepted the MAP. We are excited to see what changes the new MAP brings for Orange County!