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Region wraps up age-friendly strategy consultations

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

In order to address the needs of an aging populace, the Region of Durham has taken another step toward completing its Age-Friendly Durham strategy and action plan.

Officially wrapping up consultation for the plan, regional staff will now go back to the drawing board with feedback they have gained in order to bring a draft strategy to councillors in 2017.

Initiated by funding from the provincial government through its Age-Friendly Community Planning Grant, the region has been collecting feedback from residents through surveys, focus groups and community forums, the last of which saw nearly 300 people attend.

“We received an overwhelmingly positive response from Durham residents to the work that we’re doing around this particular initiative,” says Sonya Hardman, a policy advisor in the chief administrative officer’s office.

In addition to the nearly 250 people involved in the focus groups and interviews, the region also received more than 1,200 responses to a community survey gathering people’s thoughts on how to make regional programs and services more deliverable for older adults.

“The goal of that was to gather what is working well for adults in Durham, what could be improved and then to roll that feedback up and have a look at it within the context of some other input that we’ve gathered,” Hardman explains.

Along with the community feedback, the region will be using the World Health Organization’s eight dimensions of an age-friendly community as a guiding lens for the strategy. Those dimensions include providing support in outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, respect and inclusion, social participation, civic participation and employment, communication and information, and community supports and health services.

“We need to be forward looking and proactive in how we are developing and delivering programs and services in the communities, and that’s not just at the regional level,” Hardman says.

“The goal is to position Durham Region to respond appropriately to the need of an aging population.”

The same was said by Roger Anderson, the region’s chair.

“The goal is to make Durham Region a community where all residents – regardless of age, ethnicity, race, gender or ability – feel included, respected and enjoy a high quality of life,” states Anderson in a news release.

Following review of the feedback, a draft strategy is set to appear before regional councillors in March 2017.