Innovative local government CBSS initiatives and partnerships:
Local governments are key players in developing and delivering community-based seniors services (CBSS) to support older residents to age in place. A strength of local governments is their ability to conduct research, advocate for assistance from other levels of government, and provide resources such as space, staff, material resources (e.g., access to technology), and funding. Municipal services are also often a major funder of CBSS.
Some municipalities provide services directly to seniors through municipal community center programming, while others provide long-term grants to not-for-profit senior serving agencies. Some opportunities to create alignment between local government and CBSS organizations, as identified by these groups, include using planning tables effectively to determine common aims, sorting out which grants go to which organizations, and having point people in both groups to facilitate collaboration across agencies.
To highlight this valuable work being done, Healthy Aging CORE is featuring local government CBSS initiatives in the Featured Community Programs area.
Featured Program: Fraser Lake Age-Friendly Action Plan
Location / Municipality: Village of Fraser Lake
Overview: The Fraser Lake Age-friendly Action Plan is a set of goals, initiatives, and actions that contribute to making Fraser Lake municipality an age-friendly community and region where older adults can “age actively,” living in security, enjoying good health, and continuing to participate fully in society. Some of the goals and completed actions of this Plan include: creating opportunities for seniors to participate in a range of social, recreation, cultural, and spiritual activities; ensuring community support and health services are accessible, affordable, and meet the needs of seniors; and including older people in all aspects of community and civic life.
The Fraser Lake Age-Friendly Action Plan was developed in 2019 as part of the provincial Age-friendly Communities program (BC) and as a result of funding through the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) granting streams. The Age-friendly Communities program assists communities in BC to support aging populations by developing and implementing policies and plans, undertaking projects that enable seniors to age in place, and facilitating the creation of age-friendly communities. This provincial program builds on the findings from the World Health Organization’s Age-friendly Cities and the Canadian Age-friendly Rural & Remote Communities projects in 2007.
Councillors in Fraser Lake first heard about UBCM’s two granting streams, Age-friendly Assessments, Action Plans, & Planning and Age-friendly Projects, at the first Provincial Summit on Aging hosted by the United Way of the Lower Mainland in 2017. With a clear understanding that Fraser Lake has an aging population (in 2016, 41% of the population was over 50 years of age), Councillors decided to develop an Age-friendly Action Plan with a vision and specific goals. The visions and goals are based on the World Health Organization’s definition of age-friendly and their eight age-friendly themes: social participation, outdoor spaces and buildings, housing, community support and health services, transportation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, and communication and information.
Many of the social Age-friendly Action Plan initiatives are provided by Autumn Services, a non-profit community centre in Fraser Lake that also hosts the local Better at Home Program, in partnership with the Village of Fraser Lake municipality, and the United Way. As part of the Age-Friendly Plan, Autumn Services provides a variety of programs and services that support community-based seniors in the area: transportation services that also work with the municipalities transportation program; computer and technology support; craft classes, food share programs and a Soup n’ Bun program; TAPS (Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors); Better at Home; walking groups; and other learning, social, and health opportunities.
“Planning to become more age-friendly helps today’s seniors enjoy better quality of life now, and it also helps the next generation of adults as they make decisions about where they will spend their later years,” says Sarrah Stoney, Founder of Autumn Services, and Regional Community Developer at the United Way. Sarrah was a Municipal Councillor at the time she heard about the provincial Age-friendly Communities program and first applied for and received funding from the program. Now the Mayor of Fraser Lake, Sarrah is passionate about the initiative’s goals and actions. “Being able to age in one’s own community with their family and friends is a desirable objective for all communities – and this is at the heart of this planning process and the Village of Fraser Lake’s decision to undertake the Age-friendly Action Plan,” she says.
The municipality of Fraser Lake has tackled many of its goals outlined in the Action Plan. Outdoor spaces have been renovated and continue to be made more accessible, new transportation programs have been developed, and more opportunities have been created for older adults to participate in a range of social activities and to work and volunteer (e.g., small jobs and events around the community). The Council of the municipality of Fraser Lake has formally adopted and publicized the Age-friendly Action Plan and has added action items to their municipal budget and Strategic Plan. Fraser Lake will soon apply for their Age-friendly designation. One priority action for the future is a housing needs assessment.
The partnership between Autumn Services, the municipality (i.e., Village of Fraser Lake), the local United Way and the United Way of the Lower Mainland is a key factor in the success of the many Age-friendly initiatives taking place in Fraser Lake. The municipality supports Autumn Services in its service delivery for older adults and for age-friendly neighborhood enhancements and provides in-kind support such as space and staff time. For example, Autumn Services works with the local Fire Department and by-law enforcement to identify the need for small home repairs and yard maintenance for seniors that can no longer manage on their own.
Other partnerships also support the work being done in Fraser Lake that help meet the goals of the Action Plan: Fraser Lake & Area Men Shed, Royal Canadian Legion, Fraser Lake Medical Clinic, Northern Health, Community Paramedics, the Fraser Lake Fire Department, the Kinsmen Club, the Community Response Network, and more. As mentioned, Autumn Services also hosts the Better at Home program and the Therapeutic Activation Program (supported by the United Way of the Lower mainland and the Province), which provides older adults in the community with a variety of other services (e.g., light house-keeping, friendly visits, light yard work, exercise and balancing programs, and meal programs).
Of the eight age-friendly themes outlined above (e.g., social participation, outdoor spaces and buildings, etc.), Fraser Lake has identified three that require regional partnerships and solutions as they cannot be addressed alone:
- Community support and health services.
Local infrastructure projects such as building renovations and upgrades to public spaces are among the more complex projects to be taken on by Fraser Lake through their Age-friendly initiative, however, these remain within the scope of their Action Plan.
How have you adapted this initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The Age-friendly programming provided by Autumn Services and supported by the Village of Fraser Lake continues to take place during the COVID-19 pandemic: Better at Home services, TAPS, Higher Needs, meal and prescription delivery, food share deliveries, laundry services, friendly visits, and more. The community bus is also up and running under new COVID protocols. The current Recreation Coordinator had to step down due to the pandemic’s effects, however, as many in-person events are currently postponed, the existing support staff is managing at this time. The funding for this position remains in place and a new coordinator will be brought on post-pandemic.
For more information about the Age-friendly Action Plan from the Village of Fraser Lake, click here.