Planning Process - 2016

Planning Summit

In April, 2016, a planning summit was held to engage the leaders of the community in thinking broadly about improving the age-friendliness of Cleveland.  The goals of the event included gathering strategy recommendations, examining key findings of the assessment, and aligning improvement ideas with the domains of age-friendliness. More than 120 individuals participated in the summit, representing funders, service providers, advocacy groups, city government, and older adult residents. The event was possible thanks to the generous support of AARP Ohio.

The summit featured a presentation of the assessment followed by breakout groups for each domain. The breakout groups were co-facilitated by knowledge experts for the specific domain with 15-35 attendees in each group. Facilitators led the groups through a more detailed look at the assessment results from the domains and reviewed the key findings. Group members were encouraged to develop a handful of strategies that would address the key findings or other areas of the domain they had identified as needing improvement.

At the end of each session, strategies were collected and entered into an interactive group polling program. Attendees were invited to prioritize strategies within each domain by using their smartphones or computers to vote for the strategy they felt was most important. Through this process, a number of strategies rose to the top and became a part of the list presented to older adults in the community through focus groups.

The summit enabled us to quickly gather more than two dozen suggested strategies to address pressing needs of older adults in Cleveland and served as the basis for the Age-friendly Cleveland Action Plan.

Focus Groups

WHO and AARP emphasize the importance of engaging older adults in the community as a city plans for age- friendly improvements. In Cleveland, this was achieved through 15 focus groups of residents age 60 and older. Participants were recruited through social media, phone calls, flyers, and through networking with key members of the aging community. Focus groups were held throughout the city in senior centers, public libraries, community organizations, and other locations where older adults felt comfortable meeting.  Each focus group lasted for approximately two hours.  Overall, 301 older adult residents participated in focus groups.

The focus group facilitators reviewed the strategies for each of the eight domains and asked for thoughts from the group on which strategies they would like to see implemented. The groups engaged in conversation about the benefits and feasibility of each strategy and made suggestions for improvements. When necessary, interpreters were available for non-English speaking residents. Responses were recorded in writing by hand by staff from The Center for Community Solutions and the City of Cleveland and later typed. Each of the participants were also given a list of the strategies and asked to select the top strategy from each of the domain groups.  Through analysis of the conversations and strategy selections, favored age-friendly strategies of older adults living in the community emerged. These were further refined and expanded by the Advisory Council, and ultimately became the 21 strategies in the Age- Friendly Cleveland Action Plan.

Advisory Council Guidance

The strategies that were identified as top priorities by the older adults in the focus group were shared with the Age-Friendly Cleveland Advisory Council in working sessions. During this time, the council worked through each strategy and began the process of adding details to each of the strategies. This time was also used to step back and determine if any areas had been overlooked and develop or modify strategies to address those needs. See the Appendix for a full listing of Advisory Council members.

The staff at the Department of Aging and The Center for Community Solutions furthered the work of the Advisory Council on the strategies by connecting with agencies who have specialized expertise and by developing timelines. Most of the strategies cut across multiple domains. For example, a single strategy may enhance both communication and information and community supports and health services in the community. The strategies in this plan will be implemented over the course of three years. This plan is organized by the year in which implementation is expected to begin.

During the assessment and planning processes, older adults and community leaders frequently pointed out the interconnectedness of the Age-Friendly Domains.  For residents in particular, it did not make sense to them to separate the domains. For example, they frequently expressed that social participation and transportation are closely linked.  Based on this feedback, the Age- Friendly Cleveland Action Plan is organized around 21 strategies which will improve the age- friendly features of our city.  Most strategies relate to more than one domain. As the matrix of strategies shows, each domain is covered by multiple strategies. Taken individually or together, successful implementation of the strategies will make Cleveland a more livable and a more age-friendly city.