By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
A plan is usually only as good as the actions taken to see it through to the end.
Last summer, the Region of Durham’s Age-Friendly Strategy and Action Plan was completed after an almost two-year process and input from 1,700 individuals and 20 community organizations.
The plan includes a total of 69 recommendations, which will include spin-off requirements.
A region-wide Council on Aging was also established to work on moving the plan forward.
The council consists of 31 members, including four of whom are residents over the age of 55 who sit as community members-at-large. Two new community members-at-large will be recruited every two years.
Sonya Hardman, policy and research advisor for the office of regional chair and CEO says the council has been busy at work and “implementation [of the plan] is underway.”
Hardman says the redesign of region’s website, durham.ca, has incorporated more plain language and made it easier for residents to find information about programs and services.
Improvements have been made to transit services, such as the introduction of a dial-a-bus service, redesigned bus schedules and maps, and increased bus shelters with seating and concrete pads for accessibility.
In addition, the region is seeking to provide dementia-friendly customer service training to staff in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Durham Region.
The majority of the larger scale items in the plan will take considerable time to implement.
“It’s really a work in progress for the next three years. We are gauging our progress annually and there will be a report to regional council,” Hardman says.
Hardman says the community will play a significant role in the success of the strategy.
“I think of all our strategies, the community plays the largest role in this. There are a lot of agencies at the table, all our municipalities, and the business and academic sectors,” she says. “There are going to be many opportunities for the general public to be involved, which is critical, because change has to happen at all levels. It’s not just a municipal responsibility.”
The strategy and action plan were funded by a $50,000 grant through Ontario’s Age-Friendly Community Grant Program.
According to Age-Friendly Durham, a quarter of the region’s residents are 55 years or older, with that expected to increase to 34 per cent in 2031.