Every four years, state Division of Aging and Adult Services is required by the Older Americans Act to submit strategic plans demonstrating alignment with federal goals for getting age ready. Some states prepare perfunctory plans, but the North Carolina Aging Services Plan is a good example of what happens when intentional leadership converges with age planning. Community planners and local governments can gain insight into what action steps are important for fostering unity across departmental and regional lines in age preparation planning.
In 2010, the Governor of NC launched an initiative entitled Living Wise and Aging Well to fulfill the mission of getting the state age ready. This initiative brought together governmental departments and communities including “six regional policy roundtables attended by more than 600 people” (page 4), a conference including more than 650 people with 270 strategies for effective age preparation, and input by all 17 of the state’s Area Agencies on Aging. The result was unprecedented planning participation across departmental lines. This state plan leverages that research and planning (page 11-13). While the state’s goals still address federal goals, there is a strong sense of unity in preparation efforts.
Other plan highlights include:
The older population will increase from 1.2 million to 2.1 million by 2030 (page 14). Along with a significant percentage of its older population living in or near poverty, nearly 62 percent of older North Carolinians have a high school diplomas (32 percent) or less (30 percent).
Many of North Carolina’s strategic goals are about creating efficient infrastructure, information sharing, and streamlining processes or departments. This is understandable considering the significant amount of input and participation from various departments in preparing the plan. Outside of efficient infrastructure, three programs within the plan are worth noting specifically.
- NcCareLINK has been “live” since 2007 as a web resource center, but will receive ‘full’ implementation in combination with the NC Roadmap for Healthy Aging site.
- North Carolina has a Money Follows the Person (MFP) program allowing older adults to transition back to their homes from nursing facilities.
- There is renewed statewide emphasis on universal design and green principles in home construction, something rarely seen in state plans.
In 2009, the Governor reestablished the NC Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, which focuses on fostering greater participation by seniors in communities.
How to Use
North Carolina’s State Plan on Aging is a good example of how department alignment can foster excellent planning initiatives. Though North Carolina has had successful initiatives in previous plans, the 2011-2015 plan takes a more comprehensive and unified approach while still meeting federally required goals. Community planners and local governments should note the importance of having top leadership drive strategic age ready campaigns forward.
View full report: North Carolina Aging Services Plan – 2011-2015 (PDF – 3.4 MB)