Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors

Step 4: Develop an action plan

The action plan is a list of actions to be implemented to improve the age-friendliness of your organisation and community.

There are many advantages to taking a ground-up approach to age-friendly planning, including:

  • Engaging with older people during the decision-making and assessment stages will identify issues that older people may have as clients/customers and provide realistic, practical solutions.
  • Undertaking an age-friendly assessment will gather evidence about the impact of issues and policies, programs and services for older people and enable effective and equitable decision making.
  • Age-friendly checklists and tools enable the improvement of predictability and minimise unintended consequences.

Before starting your action plan, check you have completed the following steps:

  • assess your age-friendliness
  • understand and engage your stakeholders
  • partner and connect.

You will need all this information in your action plan.

Guiding principles

Effective age-friendly plans rely on several guiding principles, including:

  • local community-based approaches that build on existing resources and are supported by a shared vision, high-level strategies, policies and government leadership
  • engagement from local community members, policy makers, researchers and politicians, including local champions
  • building local capacity, including the ability to map community services and infrastructure, and opportunities to influence change at the local level
  • approaches that reflect the diversity of older people and respond to community members’ real concerns and issues
  • changing attitudes towards ageing to a positive view

Once you’ve completed the groundwork it’s time to get your stakeholders together and start to co-design the action plan.

TIP
Get elected members and important stakeholders involved as early as possible because broad ownership will increase successful outcomes.

Use our Sample action plan template and Sample action planning workshop questions to get the conversation going. This process must be collaborative to be successful and sustainable.

TIP
Make your get-together fun. Consider techniques such as storytelling, games or competitions to stimulate ideas. The Gaddie Pitch, an ideas-generating strategy developed by Antony Gaddie, is a fun way to get people thinking.

You should aim to agree on 3 to 5 action items for your plan. Ensure the outcome is a simple action plan with clear tasks, outcomes, timeframes and responsibilities, and that each entry is linked to the appropriate stakeholder/s.

In agreeing to your actions with your stakeholders, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Can the proposed actions be done within the given timeframe?
  2. Can we measure what is done, can we conduct qualitative and quantitative tests to judge the level of success?
  3. Do we have the resources do to this or can we bring them in?

If the answer to any of the above is NO, then put it in the ‘wish list’ and move on to the next idea. Don’t get stuck. Repeat the process until you have 3 ideas that are achievable and agreed.

Don’t forget to report back to everyone who has been involved in the process, both internal and external.

TIP
Choose 3 domains to focus on for the first stage of your action plan. Think about the domains that will have the most immediate or greatest impact in your community. Do this before you start your action plan.

Once your action plan is finalised you can move into the implementation. It’s now worth reconsidering your stakeholders and partners and how to keep them engaged during implementation. Reporting and evaluation will be the next phase.

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 The Gaddie Pitch

ProblemSolutionProof

Start with “YOU KNOW HOW….” share a fact/problem or challenge faced by your target customers.

For example: You know how more than 25 per cent of people aged 55 years and over in our community find it hard to access health services?

Follow that step with “WELL, WHAT WE DO IS….” and explain the solution you offer to the issue.

For example: Well, what we do is provide flexible health care services tailored to this age group.

Start the last step with “IN FACT….” and give a story or example that shows how your organisation does this.  

For example: In fact, we had 27 customers aged 55 years and over last week who all undertook a diabetes test using our flexible needs initiative.

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Action planning case studies

The following examples show how 2 Australian communities have implemented age-friendliness. The examples are end-to-end and highlight the action planning process.

City of Clarence, Tasmania

Clarence is a city and local government area in the Greater Hobart area of Tasmania. The City of Clarence has a population of more than 54,000 and a median age of 41 years. In 2014, the City of Clarence was endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an Age Friendly City. This endorsement was the culmination of 10 years of involving, listening to and responding to older people. The City of Clarence’s age-friendly strategies and outcomes are outlined in its Positive Ageing Plan, which is renewed every 5 years. The Strategy is coordinated by a Positive Ageing Advisory Committee that includes older people and service providers.

Needs analysis

In 2007, the City of Clarence conducted a needs analysis to inform the development of its Positive Ageing Plan. The needs analysis involved community consultation including:

  • focus meetings with more than 80 people
  • Twenty forums with more than 300 community residents and service providers
  • a survey of about 500 groups and organisations with a 52 per cent response rate; and
  • a call for submissions to the Council.

The outcomes of the consultations were reviewed by the Positive Ageing Advisory Committee and contributed to the development of the first Positive Ageing Plan.

Actions

The 2012–2016 Plan identified actions and the progress against each action. The City of Clarence:

  • produced five Get Going Guides as an information resource for leisure, living and learning opportunities for older people
  • distributed 20 Spotlight on Seniors newsletters, each including a story promoting positive ageing role models in the community
  • held four meetings each year with local communities to discuss new initiatives and ideas
  • identified opportunities to increase volunteerism and hosted 5 volunteer recognition events acknowledging the achievements of older volunteers in the City which led to increased volunteer numbers in the Clarence Community Volunteer Service
  • built on opportunities to collaborate across Council and with other groups and organisations, such as the Clarence Stronger Communities Group, to help contribute to community safety and sharing common places and spaces
  • engaged with Council’s Tracks and Trails and Disability Access Committees, sharing information and knowledge and working on projects of mutual interest.

Evaluation

In seeking to evaluate their outcomes and shape the forthcoming strategy, the City of Clarence circulated their list of achievements and the next draft plan to key stakeholders. The documents included a feedback sheet asking participants to identify the most-important issues to older people in the City of Clarence. This process took place over a 6-month period and included the following actions:

  • contacting approximately 200 relevant groups, organisations, peak bodies, networks and Council Special Committees by mail
  • displaying the materials in 5 areas including the Council Office’s foyer, a local shopping centre and activities centres
  • holding a series of 6 face-to-face forums.

City of Melville, Western Australia

The City of Melville in Perth’s south-west has an estimated population of 106,294. The City has been working towards an age-friendly community since 2007 and was endorsed by the WHO in 2010. Melville’s approach is outlined in their Directions from Seniors (PDF) strategy. The strategy aims to create an age-friendly city by promoting active ageing, removing and preventing barriers that people encounter as they age, and ensuring policies, services and structures related to the physical and social environment are designed to support older people.

A needs analysis (baseline evaluation)

To help plan its strategies for change, Melville undertook a needs analysis, or baseline evaluation, in 2007. The evaluation involved documenting the lived experience of older persons regarding what is, and what is not, age-friendly and what could be done to enhance the community or a city’s age-friendliness. It involved focus groups and workshops with older people, carers and service providers.

The evaluation led to a Directions from Seniors document that included a summary of the evaluation findings and recommendations for change. These recommendations were then embedded within the City’s Strategic Community Plan and Corporate Plans.

Activities

The activities that arose from the Directions from Seniors report are extensive. They’re detailed in reports available to the public on the City of Melville age-friendly web page. Key actions communicated to older people include:

  • continuing the popular South of the River Forums in partnership with the Council on the Ageing to cover topics of interest, identified by older people
  • establishing a Digital Hub to provide older people with small group or one-on-one training in using smartphones, computers and learning about cyber safety
  • establishing an Access Advisory Panel to represent the views of people with disability, carers and older people for input into Council decisions establishing the MAFAB (Melville Age-Friendly and Accessible Businesses) network to give feedback to local businesses about increasing their age-friendliness
  • working with the Garden City Shopping Centre, Coffee Fine Espresso, Alzheimer’s Australia WA and Attitudinal Healing WA to host the very first Memory Cafe for people living with dementia.

Outcomes evaluation

Melville’s age-friendly initiatives have been through 3 evaluation cycles during the past decade. The second evaluation began in 2010 and took place over 2 years. A decision was made to use a survey approach to ensure consistency of measurement across the 2-year period. The survey focused on the domains in the Strategic Community Plan and WHO guidelines, particularly areas where there were problems previously. The survey was completed by 622 residents from varied age ranges, cultural backgrounds and suburbs within the City. Workshops were also held to obtain more qualitative data. The Directions from Seniors Report for 2013–2017 outlines findings in relation to each of the domains and key achievements.

In 2017, Melville repeated its evaluation and is currently analysing the information to develop the Directions from Seniors 2017–2021 Strategy (PDF). Melville will repeat the survey and use focus groups and stories to measure social impact with a focus on older people who face social isolation.

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