Age-Friendly Communities in Canada: Community Implementation Guide - Toolbox


For your convenience, the Public Health Agency of Canada has put together this Toolbox, which contains many practical tools and resources to help make your community more age-friendly. These tools include great examples from across Canada of work plans, time lines, checklists, potential funders and guidelines to help you implement and assess your progress in developing your age-friendly community.

This Toolbox is intended for use by seniors, businesspeople, city/town planners, community groups, municipal officials, recreation coordinators and other concerned citizens who are interested in developing or updating strategies for age-friendly communities. It is designed to guide the development and assessment of projects toward the age-friendly goal. Best communication practices are also provided to help deliver age-friendly messages consistently and effectively.

To this end, the Toolbox provides:

  • materials to guide the creation and implementation of your community's age-friendly campaign
  • guidance on communicating the stages of your age-friendly campaign to stakeholders and the broader community
  • samples, templates, checklists, a media release and URLsFootnote 1 for age-friendly Web sites

Throughout the accompanying guide, Age-Friendly Communities in Canada: Community Implementation Guide, you will find references to the 22 specific tools of this Toolbox. For example, you will be directed to Tool 6 (checklists of age-friendly features) to provide you with more informal ways to gather information; and to Tools 2 and 3, to provide you with resources on building an advisory committee. By using the tools, you will begin to see positive developments on your way to becoming an age-friendly community.

Tool 1: Identifying Stakeholders

To identify stakeholders for your project, look for representatives from the following organizations:

Local Community-at-Large:

  • town/city/municipal council
  • local health authority
  • faith-based organizations
  • service clubs
  • senior citizen advocacy groups
  • Parks and Recreation departments
  • Public Works departments
  • Planning and Zoning boards
  • economic development committee members
  • fitness centres/clubs
  • local universities and colleges
  • community centre coordinators
  • police services
  • provincial ministry of seniors
  • Band Council

Business Community:

  • chambers of commerce/boards of trade
  • small business owners
  • large and mid-size companies
  • unions

Health Care System:

  • health care providers
  • community health centre staff
  • mental health and behavioural health representatives
  • hospital representatives
  • consumer advocacy groups

As you work to identify key stakeholders, consider what roles or contributions they may bring to the age-friendly planning process.

Table: Example Partner Contributions
Partner Contributions
YMCA/YWCA Fitness Clubs provide space or an instructor for health and wellness activity programs
Parks Departments provide age-friendly facilities at local parks for walking and other activities (e.g. secure and well-lit areas with ample seating)
Hospitals/Health Centres provide health-related educational talks and other services for seniors
Colleges/Schools assign interns from nutrition, exercise physiology and community health programs for field experiences in activities and events
Restaurants making eating out more age-friendly
Supermarkets provide free food or discounted food for town halls and other community meetings
Community Cable Shows free or low-cost airtime for promoting programs and events
Newspapers publishing advertisements, articles or public service announcements for age-friendly events and programs
Malls/Stores providing accessible, well-lit, age-friendly spaces with plenty of seating and sponsoring mall walks
Residents/Citizens volunteering to share their knowledge and management skills
Seniors' Clubs help assess community needs and provide volunteer time and space for meetings and activities
Faith-Based Institutions help assess the community and provide volunteer time and space for meetings and activities;
make meeting spaces more age-friendly

Tool 2: Advisory Committee Member Checklist

Advisory Committee Member Checklist
Community Representatives Contact Information
Older adults in your community:
older adults who represent the diversity of your community; include those older adults who are socially isolated
(name, organization, phone number and e-mail)
Local government or municipal representation:
mayor, municipal councillor, MP/MPP or other elected officials
(name, organization, phone number and e-mail)
Grass-roots organizations/groups:
advocacy groups, public health, social planning councils, advisory committees, service clubs, multicultural centres
(name, organization, phone number and e-mail)
university or colleges, front- line organizations for older adults, senior centres, local health networks or authorities
(name, organization, phone number and e-mail)

Source: developed by the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging

Tool 3: Creating an Advisory Committee


  • Form an advisory committee that includes people with a range of perspectives.
  • Ensure older adults are well represented on your committee, and that it reflects the diversity of your community.
  • Include older adults who are isolated or whose perspectives are often not considered.
  • Designate a person or organization as the champion responsible for moving the project forward.

Tips and Strategies:

  • Talk to your municipal councillor or mayor to find out if they are aware of your age-friendly project and whether anyone in the community is willing to spearhead the campaign.
  • Look for partners in your local public health unit or your community's social services committee.
  • If you are near a university that has a department that specializes in gerontology or aging, try to find academics interested in this project to provide some support.
  • Speak with leaders at your local seniors centre to see whether they are aware of any activity on this front in your community and who they think might be interested.
  • Approach the local chamber of commerce, public health organizations, media, and service clubs to help you generate support and interest for your age-friendly initiatives.

Source: developed by the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging

Tool 4: Sample Agency Commitment Letter

The organization listed below agrees to support the age-friendly project.

Name of Organization:
Street Address:
City, Province, Postal Code:

The staff person assigned to the age-friendly project:
Name of Representative:
Street Address:
City, Province, Postal Code:

Mailing Address:

Source: developed by the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging

Tool 5: Pass a Local Resolution

The goal of this type of resolution is to directly affect community policies. Getting your city council or board to pass a resolution in favour of the age-friendly project in your area is an important way to boost your campaign. Local resolutions give citizens the opportunity to address challenges right in their own community.

So how can you get a resolution passed in your community?

1. Plan Your Campaign

Given the nature of your campaign, you will want to pass a binding resolution that will actually affect community policies rather than a non-binding resolution that is simply the expression of an opinion.

  • Identify and reach out to supporters. Campaigns work best when they are driven by a coalition of groups and individuals. Who else might be interested in helping to pass the resolution? What natural allies do you have in the community? Your asset mapping exercise should help to uncover your allies. Coalition building should begin in the early stages of project planning since partnerships work best when formed at the beginning of the process.
  • Determine who will work with you to pass the resolution and what their roles will be. It's helpful to make sure everyone knows their assigned tasks. When trying to pass a binding resolution, you probably want at least one person responsible for communicating with elected officials, at least one person responsible for working the media, and at least one person responsible for putting together public education materials. Everyone should work on spreading the word to the general public.
  • Plan a timeline for the resolution campaign. Make sure you know when, and how often, the city council meets and how long it typically takes for a binding resolution to be passed. In bigger cities, it may take months for a resolution to become law.

2. Find a Champion—Someone in Local Government to Introduce Your Resolution

  • Identify a member of the council who you think will be supportive of the age-friendly project. This is important because without a government official who takes ownership of the issue and makes it his or her cause, it will be difficult to successfully pass a resolution.
  • Make contact with your champion. Find people who live in the official's district or ward and request a meeting with the representative. Once you arrange a meeting, try to organize as diverse a group as possible to represent your cause. By involving a wide range of coalition partners in the discussion, you demonstrate that your issue has community support. At the meeting, make a strong case for why the resolution is important and why the community should pass it.
  • Get your champion to introduce the resolution to the council for a vote. When you meet with the elected official, present the person with sample text of the proposed resolution. This will make the official's job easier, and make him or her more likely to support your issue.
  • Know your allies and opponents. When meeting with your champion, ask him or her to predict which members of the city council are likely to support or oppose the resolution. Knowing your allies and opponents will help you in your campaign.

3. Work with City or County Staff

  • Get to know the city or county staffers. In many city halls, especially those in small towns, the unelected bureaucrats wield as much power as the elected representatives. That's because the staff are permanent and work full time, whereas the elected officials come and go and often work only part time. It's crucial, then, that you get the city or county staffers on your side. Meet with whoever may be affected by the proposed resolution. Explain to them why the resolution is important.

4. Educate the Public

  • Spread the word. Without public support, passing your resolution will be difficult. At the same time, one of the main reasons for working on a local resolution is to educate the public about the age-friendly initiative. The resolution is, in a sense, a vehicle for educating the public. There are several ways you can do this.
  • Try to get the media interested. Once your resolution is introduced and scheduled for a vote, contact the media and ask them to do a story about the initiative. Resolutions give local media a way to cover larger issues through a community angle. Write letters to the editor in support of the resolution.
  • Host a public forum about the resolution. You might consider holding an educational event to talk to your fellow residents about the resolution. Organize a film screening that addresses your issue, or bring in a guest speaker to talk about why the resolution is important.

5. Lobby Other Elected Representatives

  • Make contact with other officials. Let your elected officials know how strongly you feel. Make sure all of the representatives on the council have a packet of information about your resolution. Try to get constituents from different districts to arrange meetings with their representatives to show support for the resolution.
  • Expand the base of support. As the date of the vote approaches, make sure you are working with residents across the community and encourage them to call or write their representatives in support of the resolution.
  • Cover all the bases. In some cases, especially with binding resolutions, committees or subcommittees will consider the resolution before the full council does. Make sure you attend these meetings and present the argument for your resolution during the public comments section of any hearings.
  • Pack the house. On the day your resolution is going to be voted on, make sure the council chambers are filled with supporters of your resolution. Encourage supporters to speak in favour of the resolution during the public comments section, and make sure you have a few people ready with prepared remarks. The day of the vote is your final chance to show that the community really cares about your issue.

6. Follow Up

  • Make sure that what the resolution calls for actually happens. This is crucial when it comes to binding resolutions. Keep in touch with your champion and municipal/town/city staff to ensure the resolution is being implemented. If it isn't, make sure all of your supporters, your champion, and even the media hear about it.

Source: adapted with permission from Rainforest Action Network, Action and Education: Tools for Creating Change and the Sierra Club's Tool Kit to Pass a Local Ordinance.

Tool 6: Age-Friendly Checklists

Checklist of Essential Features of Age-Friendly Cities

Please note that these points are general, and not all points may be relevant in your community.

1. Outdoor Spaces and Buildings

  • Public areas are clean and pleasant.
  • Green spaces and outdoor seating are sufficient in number, well maintained and safe.
  • Pavements are well maintained, free of obstructions and reserved for pedestrians.
  • Pavements are non-slip, wide enough for wheelchairs and have dropped curbs to road level.
  • Pedestrian crossings are sufficient in number and safe for people with different levels and types of disability, with non-slip markings, visual and audio cues and adequate crossing times.
  • Drivers give way to pedestrians at intersections and pedestrian crossings.
  • Cycle paths are separate from pavements and other pedestrian walkways.
  • Outdoor safety is promoted by good street lighting, police patrols and community education.
  • Services are situated together and are accessible.
  • Special customer service arrangements are provided, such as separate queues or service counters for older people.
  • Buildings are well signed outside and inside, with sufficient seating and toilets, accessible elevators, ramps, railings and stairs, and non-slip floors.
  • Public toilets outdoors and indoors are sufficient in number, clean, well maintained and accessible.

2. Transportation

  • Public transportation costs are consistent, clearly displayed and affordable.
  • Public transportation is reliable and frequent, including at night and on weekends and holidays.
  • All city areas and services are accessible by public transport, with good connections and well-marked routes and vehicles.
  • Vehicles are clean, well maintained, accessible, not overcrowded and have priority seating that is respected.
  • Specialized transportation is available for disabled people.
  • Drivers stop at designated stops and beside the curb to facilitate boarding and wait for passengers to be seated before driving off.
  • Transport stops and stations are conveniently located, accessible, safe, clean, well lit and well marked, with adequate seating and shelter.
  • Complete and accessible information is provided to users about routes, schedules and special needs facilities.
  • A voluntary transport service is available where public transportation is too limited.
  • Taxis are accessible and affordable, and drivers are courteous and helpful.
  • Roads are well maintained, with covered drains and good lighting.
  • Traffic flow is well regulated.
  • Roadways are free of obstructions that block drivers' vision.
  • Traffic signs and intersections are visible and well placed.
  • Driver education and refresher courses are promoted for all drivers.
  • Parking and drop-off areas are safe, sufficient in number and conveniently located.
  • Priority parking and drop-off spots for people with special needs are available and respected.

3. Housing

  • Sufficient, affordable housing is available in areas that are safe and close to services and the rest of the community.
  • Sufficient and affordable home maintenance and support services are available.
  • Housing is well constructed and provides safe and comfortable shelter from the weather.
  • Interior spaces and level surfaces allow freedom of movement in all rooms and passageways.
  • Home modification options and supplies are available and affordable, and providers understand the needs of older people.
  • Public and commercial rental housing is clean, well maintained and safe.
  • Sufficient and affordable housing for frail and disabled older people, with appropriate services, is provided locally.

4. Social Participation

  • Venues for events and activities are conveniently located, accessible, well lit and easily reached by public transport.
  • Events are held at times convenient for older people.
  • Activities and events can be attended alone or with a companion.
  • Activities and attractions are affordable, with no hidden or additional participation costs.
  • Good information about activities and events is provided, including details about accessibility of facilities and transportation options for older people.
  • A wide variety of activities is offered to appeal to a diverse population of older people.
  • Gatherings including older people are held in various local community spots, such as recreation centres, schools, libraries, community centres and parks.
  • There is consistent outreach to include people at risk of social isolation.

5. Respect and Social Inclusion

  • Older people are regularly consulted by public, voluntary and commercial services on how to serve them better.
  • Services and products to suit varying needs and preferences are provided by public and commercial services.
  • Service staff are courteous and helpful.
  • Older people are visible in the media, and are depicted positively and without stereotyping.
  • Community-wide settings, activities and events attract all generations by accommodating age-specific needs and preferences.
  • Older people are specifically included in community activities for "families."
  • Schools provide opportunities to learn about aging and older people, and involve older people in school activities.
  • Older people are recognized by the community for their past as well as their present contributions.
  • Older people who are less well off have good access to public, voluntary and private services.

6. Civic Participation and Employment

  • A range of flexible options for older volunteers is available, with training, recognition, guidance and compensation for personal costs.
  • The qualities of older employees are well promoted.
  • A range of flexible and appropriately paid opportunities for older people to work is promoted.
  • Discrimination on the basis of age alone is forbidden in the hiring, retention, promotion and training of employees.
  • Workplaces are adapted to meet the needs of disabled people.
  • Self-employment options for older people are promoted and supported.
  • Training in post-retirement options is provided for older workers.
  • Decision-making bodies in public, private and voluntary sectors encourage and facilitate membership of older people.

7. Communication and Information

  • A basic, effective communication system reaches community residents of all ages.
  • Regular and widespread distribution of information is assured and a coordinated, centralized access is provided.
  • Regular information and broadcasts of interest to older people are offered.
  • Oral communication accessible to older people is promoted.
  • People at risk of social isolation get one-to-one information from trusted individuals.
  • Public and commercial services provide friendly, person-to-person service on request.
  • Printed information—including official forms, television captions and text on visual displays—has large lettering and the main ideas are shown by clear headings and bold-face type.
  • Print and spoken communication uses simple, familiar words in short, straightforward sentences.
  • Telephone answering services give instructions slowly and clearly and tell callers how to repeat the message at any time.
  • Electronic equipment, such as mobile telephones, radios, televisions, and bank and ticket machines, has large buttons and big lettering.
  • There is wide public access to computers and the Internet, at no or minimal charge, in public places such as government offices, community centres and libraries.

8. Community Support and Health Services

  • An adequate range of health and community support services is offered for promoting, maintaining and restoring health.
  • Home care services include health and personal care and housekeeping.
  • Health and social services are conveniently located and accessible by all means of transport.
  • Residential care facilities and designated older people's housing are located close to services and the rest of the community.
  • Health and community service facilities are safely constructed and fully accessible.
  • Clear and accessible information is provided about health and social services for older people.
  • Delivery of services is coordinated and administratively simple.
  • All staff are respectful, helpful and trained to serve older people.
  • Economic barriers impeding access to health and community support services are minimized.
  • Voluntary services by people of all ages are encouraged and supported.
  • There are sufficient and accessible burial sites.
  • Community emergency planning takes into account the vulnerabilities and capacities of older people.

Source: "Checklist of Essential Features of Age-friendly Cities." [Web site]. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2007.

Checklist for Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities

1. Outdoor Spaces and Buildings

  • Sidewalks, pathways and trails
    • Sidewalks, pathways and trails are well maintained, cleared, non-slip and accessible.
    • Sidewalks are continuous, with low curbs and can accommodate wheelchairs and scooters.
    • Snow removal is prompt and considerate of seniors (e.g. consideration is given to how snow is piled for those who need to get in and out of cars, and that seniors may be in wheelchairs or using scooters).
    • Snow removal is adequate.
    • Parking lots are well maintained and cleared of snow and ice.
    • Streets are well maintained.
    • Rain shelters are available for pedestrians.
  • Public restrooms and rest areas
    • Public washrooms are accessible and can accommodate people with a variety of disabilities (accommodations include push buttons, wide doors, hand rails, locks that are easy for those with arthritis to use) and are located at convenient locations with proper signage.
    • Accessible benches (the appropriate height for seniors) are located along sidewalks, paths or trails and are spaced at regular intervals.
  • Safety and security
    • Action is taken to lower crime rate.
    • Neighbourhoods and trails are well lit.
    • Traffic volumes are low and/or well controlled.
  • Buildings
    • Buildings are accessible and have:
      • ramps with a slope appropriate for wheelchairs
      • fewer stairs to get into buildings and within buildings
      • non-slip flooring
      • accessible washrooms located on the main floor
      • parking that is well maintained and located near public buildings for easier access
  • Amenities (grocery stores, churches, government buildings, community centres)
    • Services are grouped together, located near where older people live and can be easily accessed (e.g. are located on the ground floor of buildings, include wheelchair ramps).

2. Transportation

  • Roads
    • Roads are well maintained, well lit and are supported by clearly visible signage.
    • Traffic flow is well regulated (especially in cottage communities that experience increased traffic in the summer months).
    • Flexible rules of the road—speed limit is not enforced (slower), not too many traffic lights, seniors given wide berth on the roads by other drivers.
    • Traffic lines on pavement are clear and visible.
  • Snow removal
    • Snow removal of roads and parking areas is prompt.
  • Parking
    • Parking lots and street parking are located close to amenities.
    • Parking regulations are enforced (preventing people from parking in emergency zones and in disabled parking spaces).
    • Drop-off and pick-up areas are clearly marked.
    • There are a sufficient number of disabled parking spots.
  • Community transportation services
    • Affordable and accessible community transport services (including shuttle vans) are available to take seniors to events, shopping excursions and field trips.
    • Volunteer and/or an informal network of drivers is available and compensated (e.g. gas money) for their efforts.
  • Health transportation (including to larger centres)
    • Accessible transportation services are available to take seniors to and from health appointments (including appointments in larger cities)—this includes boat and air transport from remote communities.
  • Assisted transportation
    • Accessible transportation for persons with a variety of disabilities is available across the range of transportation services.
  • Public transport
    • Accessible, affordable and convenient public transportation (buses, ferries, etc.) is available to older adults to conduct their daily activities—to reach such destinations as hospitals, health/community centres, shopping malls and banks.
    • Public transportation services are coordinated.
    • Services are available throughout the day and evening.
  • Taxis
    • Taxis are available, accessible and affordable to seniors.
  • Information
    • Information is provided to seniors about the range of transportation services (public and private) available to them, including information on how and where to access them, timetables and cost.
    • The use of public and alternative transportation is promoted in the community.

3. Housing

  • Housing options
    • A range of appropriate and affordable housing options (for sale and for rent) is available and includes apartments, independent living, smaller condominiums and family homes.
    • Housing is affordable and includes subsidized housing.
    • Home sizes reflect the needs and lifestyles of seniors today.
    • Housing is located in close proximity to services.
    • Housing is adapted for seniors and those with disabilities.
  • Aging in place
    • Affordable supports are available to enable seniors to remain at home.
    • Assisted living options are available to all.
    • In-between housing is available (i.e. options between the large family home and the small apartment, but with more assisted living options that can be considered an intermediary step).
    • Alert systems are available for seniors living alone (i.e. systems that alert someone when a senior needs help).
  • Long-term care
    • Affordable long-term care options are available that prevent the separation of families and the need to move out the community.
  • Maintenance and modifications
    • General maintenance of homes is affordable by seniors on fixed incomes.
    • Affordable or free general maintenance (e.g. yard work) is available for seniors.
    • Housing is modified for seniors as needed and new housing is built with seniors in mind.
    • Housing (including houses and apartments) meets the needs of those with disabilities.
    • Housing modifications are affordable, with financial assistance provided in the form of grants and subsidies.
    • Information on financial assistance programs for home modifications is readily available and easily accessible by seniors.
    • Home insurance is affordable.

4. Respect and Social Inclusion

  • Respect, kindness and courtesy shown
    • Seniors are treated respectfully by the community as a whole—they are addressed using appropriate titles, their input on community issues is sought, their contributions are honoured and their needs are accommodated.
  • Intergenerational respect and interaction
    • Community activities bring together different generations—they include pleasure activities (e.g. arts and crafts) and practical activities (e.g. youth-taught computer courses, "honorary grandparenting" programs).
    • Programs are offered to children and youth that focus on how to treat seniors with respect, and to explain what it is like to get older.
  • Inclusive communities
    • Seniors are asked to participate at council meetings and similar activities and are recognized for their contributions.
    • Older persons are asked for their input into public issues (at the local and provincial levels).
    • Seniors receive social visits from members of their community.
  • Recognition events or awards
    • Contributions of seniors are honoured in the community through events and/or awards.
    • Seniors are "celebrated" through the media (e.g. their stories are documented and shared).

5. Social Participation

  • Events and activities
    • There is a range of events and activities for seniors of all ages—some age-specific, some intergenerational. Activities include physical/recreational activities, spectator sporting events, church- and school-related events, gatherings with food, etc.
    • Activities available include outdoor (e.g. walking) and indoor activities (e.g. bingo, cards, darts).
  • Transportation
    • Events and activities are held in locations that are served by affordable and accessible transportation.
  • Preventing isolation
    • Home visits are provided to those who do not, or cannot, leave their homes.
    • A buddy system is set up to include seniors who are not normally active in the community.
    • The needs of seniors who are not interested in participating in community life are respected.
  • Courses, crafts and hobbies
    • A wide range of courses is accessible and affordable (or free). Courses are offered in convenient locations (e.g. community centre, university) that are served by public transportation.
  • Affordability and accessibility
    • Activities and events are held in convenient locations and are accessible for all—including those with disabilities.
    • Events, activities and cultural events (e.g. music, theatre) are affordable to all seniors.
  • Family-oriented
    • Events and activities are intergenerational and designed to appeal to people of different ages and backgrounds.
  • Promotion of activities
    • Activities are well publicized to seniors.

6. Communication and Information

  • Widespread communication
    • There is regular and reliable distribution of information about events and programs (including contact information) through local government and/or voluntary organizations.
    • Information is disseminated/posted where seniors conduct their daily activities—such as the post office, places of worship, local centres and town halls.
    • Local channels (TV and radio) advertise community events and news items of interest to seniors—for example, through community access channels.
    • There is a central directory where older adults can find information about what activities and services are available, and how to access them (including phone numbers).
  • Interactive contact (word of mouth)
    • Important information is disseminated in public forums (including public meetings and information sessions).
    • Information to older adults who are socially isolated is delivered by phone, or through personal visits.
    • An interactive speaker series is created that delivers important information (e.g. on health issues, protecting against fraud).
  • Accessible information
    • Written communication is clearly printed in large letters and is easy to read, with simple messaging.
    • Literacy programs are available.
    • Seniors are recruited and used as volunteers as experts, disseminators of information and trainers.
  • New technologies
    • Access to computers and the Internet is available at a local centre open to the public.
    • Training courses on new technologies are available and accessible to seniors.
  • Types of information
    • Information of interest to seniors is disseminated—such as local events (including obituaries), vital information (health, security, etc.), and programs and services that are available to them.
    • Seniors' accomplishments are highlighted occasionally in the media.

7. Civic Participation and Employment Opportunities

  • Volunteering
    • Volunteers are supported in their volunteer work (e.g. by providing them with transportation, reimbursing their costs and/or paying them an honorarium).
    • A range of volunteer opportunities is available that meets the interests of seniors.
    • Volunteering options allow for intergenerational involvement.
    • Opportunities for volunteering are flexible (e.g. short term) to accommodate seniors who travel or have other commitments.
  • Employment
    • There is a range of paid employment opportunities for seniors.
    • Older adults are fairly compensated for their work.
  • Accessibility
    • Seniors with disabilities are accommodated in volunteer, civic or paid work.
    • Transportation is available and accessible to older adults who want to participate in volunteer, civic or paid opportunities.
  • Encouragement to participate
    • Older adults are encouraged to volunteer and remain engaged in the community by providing them with flexible and accessible opportunities.
    • Individuals are approached personally to participate in volunteer activities.
  • Training opportunities
    • Older adults expected to use newer technologies in paid, civic or volunteer work are provided with appropriate training.
  • Recognition and appreciation
    • Older adults are acknowledged for their contributions in volunteer, civic and paid work.
  • Civic participation
    • Older adults are well represented on councils, boards and committees.

8. Community Support and Health Services

  • Caring and responsive professionals
    • Physicians are available in the community.
    • Public health nurses are available at health centres and to conduct home visits.
    • Specialists (including gerontologists) conduct assessments on a regular basis in the community and arrange follow-up with primary care physicians.
  • Home health and support services
    • Affordable and available health and home services are in place and include health, personal care and housekeeping.
    • Home supports are available in a timely manner.
    • Affordable meal programs are available to all seniors in the community, regardless of their health status.
    • Delivery services (groceries, medicines) or escorted shopping services are available to seniors.
    • Delivery of services is well coordinated (e.g. through a cluster-of-care model).
    • Health assessments are conducted during home visits.
  • Diversity of health services and facilities
    • Health care facilities include clusters of services (e.g. doctors, podiatrists, occupational therapists, pharmacists), providing one-stop health or wellness services.
    • Affordable palliative care services are available in the community.
    • Specialty services are available in the community, including mental health services, mammogram and diabetes clinics, and cancer care outreach.
  • Availability of equipment and aids
    • Medical equipment (including medical alerts) is available through a loan program, at no cost to seniors.
  • Caregiver support (including respite)
    • Caregivers are given a break from their responsibilities through programs such as home support and seniors daycare programs.
    • Education programs on elder care and similar available services are provided to families who are, or will be, caring for an older adult.
  • Information
    • Older adults are kept well informed, through a variety of media, of the services that they may be entitled to and how they are accessed.
    • A speaker series provides information to seniors on a range of health and wellness topics.

Tool 7: Statistics Canada Community Profiles

Statistics Canada provides free online Community Profiles from the 2006 census. These are small, stable geographic areas with populations from 2,000 to 8,000.

You can find census tract information by searching by postal code.

Note: Census tract data are not available for Prince Edward Island, Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Yukon Territory.


Tool 8: How to Conduct a Focus Group

A focus group session provides an opportunity to:

  • gather opinions, beliefs and attitudes about issues of interest to your organization or community
  • test your assumptions
  • encourage discussion about a particular topic (sometimes people share more in a group)

A. Define the purpose and objectives of the focus group

These should be clear and specific. Clearly defined purpose and objectives will make the rest of the process easier.

B. Establish a timeline

Focus groups usually take six to eight weeks of planning. You will need enough time to identify the participants, locate a site, invite and follow up with participants, and gather the materials for the sessions.

C. Identify the participants

  • Determine how many participants you need and how many to invite.
  • Develop a list of key attributes to seek in participants based on the purpose of the focus group.
  • Using the list of attributes, brainstorm about possible participants.
  • Secure names and contact information, finalize the list and send invitations.

Focus groups should consist of 6 to 12 participants. Fewer than 6 participants tend to limit the conversation, because there is not enough diversity to spark energy and creativity. A group larger than 12 can be unwieldy and voices get lost. However, you should invite more, allowing for no-shows.

D. Develop a script

Generating questions is a prelude to developing a more detailed script for your focus group.

Plan on a one- to two-hour time frame. A minimum of one hour is recommended because the process requires some time for opening and closing remarks as well as at least one or two questions. Be cautious not to exceed two hours.

There are three parts to a focus group script:

  1. The opening is the time for the facilitator to welcome the group, introduce the purpose and context of the focus group, explain what a focus group is and how it will flow, and make the introductions.
  2. The question section is when the facilitator asks the questions (see Focus Group questions in this Toolbox - Tool 9).
  3. The closing section wraps up the focus group. This includes thanking the participants, giving them an opportunity and avenue for further input, telling them how the data will be used, and explaining when the larger process will be completed.

E. Select a facilitator

A focus group facilitator should be able to deal tactfully with outspoken group members, keep the discussion on track, and make sure every participant is heard.

The facilitator should be knowledgeable about the project. He or she can be a staff member, volunteer or member of a committee or task force.

Be wary of anything about the facilitator (or facilitators) that might make participants uncomfortable. For example, you may not want the organization's executive director to facilitate a staff focus group about a new performance appraisal system.

F. Choose the location

You will need an accessible location that is private and where participants will feel comfortable expressing their opinions. Some things to consider when looking for a meeting space:

  • What message does the setting send? (Is it corporate, upscale, cozy, informal, sterile, inviting?) Does the setting encourage conversation?
  • How will the setting affect the information gathered? Will the setting bias the information offered?
  • Can it comfortably accommodate 9 to 15 people (6 to 12 participants plus facilitators), where all can see each other?
  • Is it easily accessible? (Consider access for people with disabilities, safety, transportation, parking, etc.)

Once decided, reserve the location if necessary.

G. Conducting the focus group

The materials you might need for the session are:

  • notepads and pencils
  • computer with presentation
  • flip chart or easel paper to record ideas
  • focus group script
  • list of participants
  • markers
  • masking tape
  • name tags
  • refreshments
  • watch or clock

The facilitator should arrive before the participants, set out the refreshments, and arrange the room so all participants can see one another—U-shaped seating or all at one table is best.

  • As participants arrive, you, as the facilitator, should set the tone for a comfortable, enjoyable discussion by welcoming them, just as any gracious host would.
  • Introduce yourself and the co-facilitator.
  • Explain how you will be recording the session. Make sure you record the session!
  • Carry out the focus group according to the plan and script.
  • The facilitator should have some room for spontaneity (i.e. asking spontaneous questions that arise from the discussion, probing deeper into a topic).

Attention to the following items will help ensure success:

  1. Set the tone; participants should have fun and feel good about the session.
  2. Make sure every participant is heard; try to draw out quieter group members.
  3. Get full answers (not just "we need more money" but "we need [whatever] to do [whatever])."
  4. Monitor time closely; don't exceed time limits.
  5. Keep the discussion on track; try to answer all or most of the questions.
  6. Head off exchanges of opinion about individual items.

H. After the focus group

Interpret and report the results. Make any notes on your written notes (e.g. to clarify any scratching, ensure pages are numbered, fill out any notes that don't make sense).

There are three steps to creating a report on your focus group:

  1. Summarize each meeting. The facilitator should review the session with another person to capture fresh impressions. Transcribe notes that were taken soon after the session is over and write a summary of the focus group. The quick turnaround time on the transcription helps avoid memory lapses. It's easiest for the facilitator or recorder to remember what was meant by a particular acronym or shorthand immediately following the session than it is a month later.
  2. Analyze the summaries. Start by reading all the focus group summaries in one sitting. Look for trends (comments that seem to appear repeatedly in the data) and surprises (unexpected comments that are worth noting). Keep in mind that context and tone are just as important as the reiteration of particular words. If a comment (or a number of comments) seems to be phrased negatively, elicited emotional responses, or triggered many other comments, that would be worth noting in the analysis.
  3. Write the report. The final report can take many different shapes, but it should include all information about the background and purpose of the focus group, details of the sessions, results and conclusions.

You may also want to use web-based surveys as a way to gather information from users. This has the advantage of providing information that is more quantifiable, but has the disadvantage of generating less discussion. An example of a survey is available at CIMEL and the results are dynamically generated at CIMEL Results By Question. CIMEL researchers can generate comparable surveys and results easily. The results of surveys can be combined with a focus group report, or described separately.

The report is now ready for translation into action. Here are some suggestions for translating the results into action:

  • Schedule a meeting to review the summaries and discuss their implications.
  • Put the focus group information into context. Refer to your purpose statement and analyze the answers or insights the focus groups gave you. Compare, contrast, and combine the focus group information with information gathered from other sources such as surveys, interviews or secondary research sources.
  • Highlight the main themes, issues, problems or questions that arose in the focus groups. Discuss and record how you will address these.
  • If there is a lot of information, prioritize it. Then decide what actions need to be taken with regard to the priority items.

Adapted with permission from "Conducting a Focus Group," Dr. Glenn Blank, Lehigh University, June 23, 2010.

Source: Glenn Blank, Conducting a Focus Group,

Tool 9: Age-Friendly Focus Group Questions

These questions were used in the Age-Friendly Cities project led by the World Health Organization and the Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities Initiative in Canada to help communities identify their strengths and areas requiring improvements.

1. Outdoor spaces and buildings

  • What is it like to step outside your home to go for a walk to get fresh air, run errands or visit?
  • What is it like to go into buildings, such as public offices or stores?

2. Transportation

  • What is the public transportation system like in your community?
  • What is it like to drive in your community?

3. Housing

  • Tell me about the house or the apartment where you live.
  • If your needs change, what are your choices for housing in the community?

4. Respect and inclusion

  • In what ways does your community show, or not show, respect for you as an older person?
  • In what ways does your community include, or not include, you as an older person in activities and events?

5. Social participation

  • How easily can you socialize in your community?
  • Tell me about your participation in other activities, like education, culture recreation, or spiritual activities.

6. Communication and information

  • What is your experience getting the information you need in your community, for example, about services or events? This can be information you get by telephone, radio, TV, in print, or in person.

7. Civic participation and employment

  • Tell me about your participation in volunteer work.
  • Tell me about your participation in paid work, if you are employed now or if you are looking for paid work.
  • Tell me about your participation in public community affairs, like community associations or municipal councils.

8. Health and social services

  • What is your experience with the services in the community to help older persons?

Tool 10: Community Survey

For a comprehensive approach to conducting a community survey, visit the Community Tool Box website of the University of Kansas.

Tool 11: Sample Community Assessment Reports

Tool 12: Sample Program Logic Model Template

Goal: To improve the health of older Canadians through a process of community engagement

Sample Program Logic Model Template


  • Funding (e.g. donations, grants)
  • Human resources (number of staff and volunteers, number of hours)


  • Developing programming
  • Educating and raising awareness
  • Meeting with elected officials and community members
  • Developing and maintaining website or print materials
  • Consulting with experts


  • Number and frequency of meetings held
  • Number of age-friendly news releases
  • Number of programs directed towards seniors
  • Number of requests for printed materials
  • Number of hits to website
  • Number and frequency of consultations

Outcomes Short-term

  • Municipal decisions reflect needs of older population
  • Built environment is planned with consideration to seniors
  • Increased awareness among all community members

Outcomes Intermediate

  • Increased physical activity among seniors
  • Increased availability and accessibility of transportation for seniors
  • Employment opportunities for seniors
  • Opportunities for inter-generational interactions

Outcomes Long-term

  • Improved physical and mental health among seniors
  • Fewer injuries
  • Increased quality of life

Note: Each community's logic model will be different and will depend on the community's individual needs and goals.

Tool 13: Checklist of Helpful Questions for Developing a Project

  • Who's accountable for this project's success (e.g. an advisory committee)?
  • Whom should we communicate with as the project progresses (e.g. funders, stakeholders, local government representatives)?
  • Whom shall we report to (e.g. funders, stakeholders)?
  • What people do we need?
  • What people do we currently have (e.g. a recreation coordinator, six volunteers)?
  • Will we need to hire anyone, and if so, whom?
  • Do we need to consult any specialists (e.g. a building contractor, a researcher, a community developer)?
  • How do we get involvement from our community?
  • What skills do we need to complete this project?
  • Who needs to know how to do what?
  • What training do we need, if any?
  • How do we get it, and who could advise us about this?
  • What policies/procedures are affected? What are needed?
  • How do we keep people motivated and engaged in our project? How can we make this fun?

Checklist of questions to help you create a budget

  • What will each activity cost? What is the total cost?
  • How do we get the money?
  • What factors might affect the cost?
  • Might we need additional funds?
  • What are the potential financial benefits of our project?
  • Who signs the cheques?

Source: adapted from David Allen's "Project Planning Checklist" at

Tool 14: Potential Funders


Employment and Social Development Canada
New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP)

The NHSP is a federal Grants and Contributions program that supports projects led or inspired by seniors who make a difference in the lives of others and in their communities.

For more information and deadline for application each year, contact: 1-800-277-9914

TTY: 1-800-255-4786
Select "0" to speak with an agent.
Agents are ready to answer your questions Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Mailing Address:
New Horizons for Seniors Program
Employment and Social Development Canada
P.O. Box 250
Fredericton, NB E3B 4Z6

Employment and Social Development Canada
Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF)

The EAF supports community-based projects across Canada that improve accessibility, remove barriers and enable Canadians with disabilities to participate in and contribute to their communities.

For more information and deadline for application each year, contact: 1-866-268-2502.

Mailing Address:
Enabling Accessibility Fund
Office for Disability Issues
105, rue Hôtel de Ville
Bell Building, First Floor
Gatineau, Québec
K1A 0J9

Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Home Adaptations for Seniors' Independence Program (HASI)

This program helps homeowners and landlords pay for minor home adaptations to extend the time low-income seniors can live in their own homes independently.

Federal/Provincial Repair Program

This program provides four types of financial assistance:

  1. Modifications to low-income homeowner and rental units to improve the accessibility of the dwelling for occupants with disabilities.
  2. Adaptations for low-income seniors who have difficulty with daily living activities in the home.
  3. Limited modifications to eligible households to accommodate an aging parent.
  4. Low-income homeowners occupying existing substandard housing to repair, rehabilitate or improve their dwellings to a minimum level of health and safety.

Qualifying households are those whose income is below the established "housing income limits," which vary by household size and by geographical areas within the province.


Canadian Heritage
Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage

Lotteries Yukon
Community Lottery Program

Yukon Economic Development
Community Development Fund

Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture
Arts Fund

Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture
Arts Operating Fund

Northwest Territories

British Columbia

Government of British Columbia
Fund: Restructure Grants

Northern Development Initiative Trust
Community Foundation Matching Grants

Union of British Columbia Municipalities
Seniors' Housings and Support Initiative


Basic Municipal Transportation Grant
Provides annual allocation-based support to Alberta municipalities for their capital transportation infrastructure requirements. For more information, please contact the Transportation Regional Director in your area:

Central Region: 403-340-5166
North-Central Region: 780-674-8221
Peace Region: 780-624-6280
Southern Region: 403-381-5426

Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP)
Assists communities across the province with construction, renovation or redevelopment of community public-use facilities to help enhance the quality of life and citizens' well-being.

Community Initiatives Program (CIP)
Provides funds to enhance and enrich community initiatives throughout Alberta within a number of categories including project-based grants and community operating grants. Community Liaison Officers can provide assistance to complete your funding requests. Please contact:

Northern Alberta: 780-422-9578
Central/Southern Alberta: 780-422-9578
Calgary Area: 403-297-3489
Edmonton Area: 780-422-9574
Toll-free at 1-800-642-3855

Family and Community Support Services (FCSS)
FCSS is a unique 80/20 funding partnership between the province, and municipalities or Métis settlement. Funding supports communities in the design and delivery of preventive social programs that promote and enhance the well-being of individuals, families and communities and that build capacity to prevent or deal with crisis situations.

For more information, please contact Human Services.

Green Transit Incentives Program (Green TRIP)
This application-based program for capital funding supports new public transit projects that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through reduced traffic congestion. Eligible initiatives include the development of local, regional and intercity public transit projects.

For more information, please contact: 780-415-2148.

Municipal Grants
The Government of Alberta's Municipal Grants Web Portal provides local governments with a way to find information on all provincially and federally administered programs that provide grants to municipalities and Métis Settlements in Alberta.

Municipal Sustainability Initiative—Operating Funding
This program supports qualifying operating expenses relating to planning, capacity building, municipal services and support to non-profit organizations.

For more information, please contact Municipal Affairs at 780-427-2225.

Municipal Sustainability Initiative—Capital Funding
This program supports qualifying projects that result in the purchase, construction, development, betterment, or rehabilitation of infrastructure that enhances long-term municipal sustainability.

For more information, please contact Municipal Affairs at: 780-427-2225.


Saskatchewan Lotteries
Community Grant Program

Government of Saskatchewan
Community Grant Program


Government of Manitoba
Community Places Program

Manitoba in motion
Manitoba in motion Grants



Ministère de la Famille
Municipalité amie des aînés (available in French only)
Programme de soutien à la démarche, Municipalité amie des aînés

New Brunswick

Fundy Community Foundation

The Fredericton Community Foundation Inc.

Certain foundations support projects aimed at rendering buildings accessible to persons with disabilities. The office of the Premier's Council on the Status of Disabled Persons keeps a copy of the Canadian Directory to Foundations & Grants published by the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy. If you wish to obtain a copy of the list of the foundations based in New Brunswick, call 1-800-442-4412 (voice and TTY).

To get information regarding the provincial requirements for making buildings and other facilities accessible, call 1-800-442-4412 (voice and TTY)

Nova Scotia

Prince Edward Island

Newfoundland and Labrador

Department of Seniors, Wellness and Social Development
Age-Friendly Newfoundland and Labrador Community Grants Program

Tool 15: Project Plan Template

1. Project Overview

This section of the plan should provide an overview of the purpose, scope and objectives of the project for which the plan is being developed, the project assumptions and constraints, a list of project deliverables, and a summary of the project schedule and budget.

1.1 Purpose, Scope and Objectives

  • Define the purpose and scope of the project.
  • Describe any considerations of scope or objectives to be excluded from the project or the deliverables.
  • Ensure that the statement of scope is consistent with similar statements in the business case, and any other relevant system-level or business-level documents.
  • Identify and describe the needs to be satisfied by the project.
  • Provide a concise summary of:
    • the project objectives
    • the deliverables required to satisfy the project objectives
    • the methods by which satisfaction of the objectives will be determined
  • Describe the relationship of this project to other projects, if applicable.
  • If appropriate, describe how this project will be integrated with other projects or ongoing work processes.
  • Provide a reference to the official statement of project requirements.

1.2 Assumptions, Constraints and Risks

  • Describe the assumptions on which the project is based.
  • Describe the imposed constraints and risks on the project, such as:
    • schedule
    • budget
    • resources

1.3 Project Deliverables

  • Identify and list the following, as required to satisfy the terms of the project:
    • project deliverables (either directly in this plan, or by reference to an external document)
    • delivery dates

1.4 Schedule and Budget Summary

  • Provide a summary of the schedule and budget for the project.
  • Provide a succinct description of the major work activities and supporting processes.

1.5 Evolution of the Plan

  • Identify the compliance of this plan to any standards.
  • Specify the plans for producing both scheduled and unscheduled updates to this plan.
  • Specify how the updates to this plan shall be disseminated.
  • Specify how changes to this plan shall be controlled after its issue.

1.6 References

  • Provide a complete list of all documents and other sources of information referenced in this plan.
  • Identify each referenced document by title, report number, date, author and publishing organization.
  • Identify other referenced sources of information, such as electronic files, using unique identifiers such as path/name, date and version number.
  • Identify and justify any deviations from the referenced standards or policies.

1.7 Definitions and Acronyms

  • Define, or provide references to documents or annexes containing the definition of all terms and acronyms required to properly understand this plan.

Source: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Tool 16: Sample Work Plan

Sample Work Plan
Sample Work Plan
Sample Work Plan - Text Equivalent

Work Plan: <Your organizations name>

Work Plan For:

  • Year:
  • Month:
    • Timeline (week of)
    • Task
    • Activity area
    • Resource(s)
    • Completed

Source: used with permission from the HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector.

Tool 17: Considerations When Engaging a Professional Evaluator


  • What will be the relationship between the project sponsor and the professional evaluator?
  • What work will the evaluator be responsible for? A detailed work plan should be agreed upon in advance.
  • What credentials and experience will be required of the evaluator?
  • How will the evaluator be informed of and held accountable to the evaluation framework and the principles on which it is based?
  • How does the project sponsor plan to handle any disputes with the professional evaluator?

It is also helpful to have the following information on hand:

  • a list of possible evaluators, including their profiles, their strengths, weaknesses, projects they have worked on, any experience they may have had in working with a team;
  • ideas on different roles for professional evaluators (e.g. working with project sponsors to develop the evaluation plan, developing some or all of the data collection tools, analyzing the data, writing summary reports);
  • sample contracts from professional evaluators (an agency such as your local health authority would likely be able to provide these);
  • guidelines on when to use professional evaluators for project.

Source: Health Canada, Guide to Project Evaluation: A Participatory Approach (Ottawa: Health Canada, 1996).

Tool 18: Articles

The first paragraph of an article should provide a clear and concise overview of the main point(s) and include the 5Ws (who, what, when, where and why) and how. The opening is a "promise" of what's to come and should entice the reader to read the rest of the article.

The content of an article should be completely fact-based. Sentences should be clear, concise and worded in a manner that is appropriate for the reader. The most important facts are usually placed first, drawing the reader to the remainder of the story.

Always assume that the reader has no prior knowledge of the event or organization that you are writing about when submitting an article to a publication. Make sure your submission meets the space and word count requirements of the publication.

Quotes can be used and may provide a personal opinion and add a human feel to the story. They can also illustrate or support the purpose or message in the article. Including background information on the age-friendly initiative or event is also helpful in explaining the full story.

Many newspapers will have a letter-to-the-editor section that is open to public submissions. You may also want to contact your local community paper to see if it can write the story for you. Here is an example of an article:

More Age-Friendly Initiatives Needed in Lexington
Recently, I visited the Oyster Bridge Community Centre and I had the wonderful opportunity to experience a facility that was truly "age-friendly." I am a senior citizen in the Municipality of Lexington and was surprised that age-friendly initiatives exist in communities throughout the province. In simple terms, a community is age-friendly if it adapts its structures and services to be accessible to and inclusive of older people.
For example, the Oyster Bridge Community Centre implemented several seniors' programs and initiatives such as newly constructed wheelchair entrances and a wheelchair Access-a-Bus service. It also started a seniors' computer workshop which introduces seniors to the basics of using a computer and the best part, in my opinion, is the technical assistance from a local youth group who is available to teach seniors how to operate a digital camera and cell phone.
This community centre is a shining example to other communities on how to use practical initiatives that help seniors be more inclusive in their community by giving them the support and means to actively participate in a variety of programs. As a community member, I see the benefits such initiatives and programs bring to seniors and I would like to see more communities follow the Oyster Bridge model.
Congratulations Oyster Bridge Community Centre. Well done!
Donald Power, Oyster Bridge Community Centre Member

Source: developed by the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging

Tool 19: Media Release

A news release is used to get a message or story out to the public through the media. To maximize the impact of your news release it needs to be well written. A well written news release is one that is clear, concise, correct and complete. A well written news release has a better chance of getting picked up by the media than one that is not.

The timing of issuing your news release is an important consideration. If you are sending out a news release about a specific event, send it out a few days before the event. If you send it out too far in advance, it may be overlooked or forgotten by the time your event takes place.

A news release is made up of various parts and should be placed in the following order using an easy-to-read font:


The first item that must appear on a news release is an organization's letterhead. If available, place your news release on your organization's letterhead. If letterhead is not available, include the name of your organization centered on the top of the page. If available, include your logo as well.

News Release

"News Release" should appear a few lines down from the letterhead on the left side of the page in 24 point font size.


The current date should appear a few lines down on the right side of the page in 12 point font size. Directly below the date, include the text "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE" in 12 point font size and in all uppercase.


The next item to appear a few lines down on the page is the headline. Try to use a catchy headline. This will not only help to attract the reader's attention, but it will also attract media attention and increase the chances of media pickup. The headline should appear in bold and 15 point font size. Use active voice and avoid using articles. Think about keywords you want to highlight and use these words to craft your headline.


The next item is the byline. This is the first text you see in the body of the news release. It is often placed in brackets and provides the location and date of the story. For example: (Municipality of Goose Creek, June 5, 2010). In keeping with the body of the news release use a 12 point font size for the byline.


Immediately following the byline is the hook or the first sentence of the news release. This sentence is intended to catch the reader's attention and concisely describes what the news release is about. One way this is done is by providing a response to the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where and why). For example: Today, Goose Creek Community Council Launched its First-ever, Age-Friendly Community Event in Central Park to Demonstrate its On-going Commitment to its Seniors. The sentence following the hook provides a few more important details and helps to better set the scene.


The next item to appear is often a quote. An interesting news release will include a few quotes from various individuals to give the story human interest. You could include a quote from a community leader or elected official or an individual directly involved in the age-friendly initiative, event or story. Be sure to have the individual approve the quote. Write the quote from the individual in quotation marks and include their correctly spelled name and title. Accurate use of punctuation is critical when using quotes. For example: "This event demonstrates our community's commitment to making Goose Creek a place where seniors can live and thrive as they age," says Ms. Jane Doe, Mayor of Goose Creek.


Using a 12 point font size, the body of the news release should be concise and written in the inverted pyramid style. This means it starts with the most important information and ends with the least important. Use short paragraphs with one or two sentences each. Use short sentences. Always write in the active voice using plain language. Avoid jargon and repetition. Also avoid editorializing - be objective and only present the facts. If you want to express a point of view, bring this in through the use of a quote.

Boiler Plate

End the body of the news release with a boiler plate paragraph. This is one or two sentences describing your organization. If you are collaborating with another organization on the news release, include the boiler plate for both organizations.

End Mark

The end of the news release is signalled with ###, - 30 - or - end - centred directly below the last line of the news release (see sample below). Any one of these three symbols is appropriate.

Contact Information

Finally, include contact information so that a journalist has a way to contact someone at your organization should he or she want more information. Choose a person who is comfortable speaking to the media about the age-friendly event or initiative. Include the following contact information:

  • Name of contact person
  • Title
  • Name of organization(s) involved
  • Full mailing address
  • Phone number
  • Fax number
  • E-mail
  • Web site
A Sample Press Release:
Oyster Ridge Community Centre Now Age-Friendly
Municipality of Lexington, June 5, 2010—With support from the Age-Friendly Communities Program, the Oyster Bridge Community Centre is now more accessible and inclusive of seniors, offering several new programs and initiatives aimed at creating an age-friendly community.
The newly constructed wheelchair entrances and wheelchair Access-a-Bus service makes the centre more accessible to seniors in the area. The seniors' computer workshops introduce seniors to the basics of using a computer and a local youth group is on hand to offer technical assistance to seniors on how to operate a digital camera and cell phone.
"Our goal was to make the centre more inclusive of seniors in the area, and I believe the new accessible entrances, and seniors' workshops and programs fulfill that goal," said Lucy Montgomery, Executive Director, Oyster Bridge Community Centre. "Transportation is also a barrier for most seniors and the wheelchair Access-a-Bus will provide a safe and convenient means for seniors to stay active and participate in our community."
Membership in the Community Centre's Seniors Club has doubled since the start of the new programs.
"I now have the opportunity to socialize with my friends and learn new things," said Dorothy Johnson, Oyster Bridge Community Centre member. "I don't drive, so I really enjoy the Access-a-Bus—it's a wonderful and helpful service for seniors."
The Oyster Bridge Community Centre is open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is located in the Municipality of Lexington with a mission to provide seniors, youth, adults and children with greater opportunities for personal growth, learning and community participation in a safe and supportive environment.
- end -
Lucy Montgomery
Executive Director, Oyster Bridge Community Centre
Phone: 555-5555
Web site:

Source: developed by the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging

Tool 20: Public Service Announcement

Your public service announcement (PSA) should always begin with "PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT" centred at the top of the page followed by a few spaces and then the date that you'd like your announcement to air.

If your group has a logo or letterhead, try to work this in with your PSA.

Include name, phone, e-mail, and fax number of the contact person.

Skip a line or two and give your announcement a title (perhaps the name of the event), in bold letters, followed by a short, concise explanation of what you want aired.

Send it about three weeks in advance. At the end, write - end - or # # #, as you do in a media release.

For a single-mailing PSA, call the radio or TV station and get the name of the contact person and address it to that person.

If you are doing a mass mailing to several media outlets, address your PSA to the Public Service Director at the different addresses where you are sending them.

Then add "Community Calendar" or "Program Director." All media outlets do not necessarily use these titles but it will increase your chances of getting your PSA to the proper department.

Contact: Lucy Montgomery
Executive Director Oyster Bridge Community Centre
Phone: 555.5555
Web site:

(Month, date, year)
Oyster Bridge Community Centre Now Age-Friendly
As part of the City of Lexington's Age-Friendly initiative, the Oyster Bridge Community Centre now offers more accessibility for seniors. Join us at our Open House to see our newly constructed wheelchair entrances and sign up for our free wheelchair Access-a-Bus service or computer workshops for seniors on June 5, 2010 at the Oyster Bridge Community Centre. Call Lucy Montgomery for more information at 555-5555 or e-mail:

Source: developed by the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging

Tool 21: Newsletters

Newsletters are an effective way of telling the community what you are doing and what your plans are. They usually range from 1 to 12 pages depending on the amount of content.

A key for a good newsletter is to think from the audience's point of view. Ask yourself what you enjoy reading and why. Does the newsletter article offer the audience anything new, such as tips, advice, resources or benefits?

Use short, interesting headlines for each article or section. Try to use an action verb to make the reader want to read the rest of the article. Photographs and other images enhance a newsletter and make it more readable. Make sure that your printing methods are capable of reproducing good-quality photos and images.

Always include a description of the Advisory Committee with full contact information in the newsletter. You can also use a "mission statement" if your committee established one. Every edition of your newsletter should have this content.

For content, follow the general guidelines laid out for writing articles in Tool 18.

There are several newsletter templates available on various computer software programs. Or you may know someone who can create the newsletter for you.

Source: developed by the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging

Tool 22: Advertising

An effective advertisement has three main parts:

  • an attention-getting headline
  • the benefit to the reader—why should they participate?
  • a call to action

Include an encouraging line to attend the age-friendly event or participate in an initiative. It is also important to include full contact information and the 5Ws. See an example below.


Want to Learn How to Use a Computer?
As part of the Municipality of Lexington's Age-Friendly initiative, the Oyster Bridge Community Centre is offering free workshops to seniors in the area on the basics of using a computer.
If you are a senior in the Oyster Bridge area,
Join us
June 15, 2010
2:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.
Oyster Bridge Community Centre

155 Norris Road
Municipality of Lexington, V9G 2D8
For more information and to register, please contact:
Lucy Montgomery
Executive Director, Oyster Bridge Community Centre
Phone: 555.5555
Web site:

Source: developed by the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging

Tip Sheet 1: Developing Age-Friendly Communities: Viewed Through the Lens of Aging and Mobility

Note: This tip sheet was developed following the Age-Friendly Communities Invitational Forum, held March 23-24, 2010.

As a majority of seniors live in single-family dwellings where a car is essential to maintaining the ability to get around one's community (e.g. low-density suburbs, rural and remote communities), it is useful to think of mobility in broader terms than transportation alone. Mobility is fundamental to sustaining quality of life, and therefore strategies for developing age-friendly communities need to address a wide variety of issues, ranging from the location and design of housing to finding ways to maintain access to essential services and amenities if and when older citizens lose their driver's licences.

A decline in physical or mental faculties can restrict the ability of seniors to drive, use public transit, and may also make the walking experience more hazardous—particularly in built environments designed for the car rather than for the needs of pedestrians. In places where the market offers limited choices, the lack of housing options can force older citizens into long-term care facilities. For seniors in rural and remote communities, innovative approaches to redistributing fiscal resources will be needed to keep up with the demand for housing and long-term care facilities.

The following represent a sampling of insights, suggestions and useful tips for developing and sustaining age-friendly communities:

Enhancing Our Understanding of Mobility and Age-Friendly Communities

  • Participants defined mobility as symbolizing independence, freedom, respect and peace of mind—an essential condition for a rich quality of life—as well as all the conditions that affect health. Maintaining mobility begins within one's dwelling, but extends to outdoor spaces, and necessarily includes good communication about essential information on access to resources and transportation options.
  • Workshop participants explored a number of concepts related to the ability of seniors to carry out a "complete journey," acknowledging, for example, that older people will be less likely to begin a trip if they believe they will encounter physical barriers such as lack of access to a washroom. Solutions could include working with transit companies to look at simplifying or making schedules more legible for people with vision difficulties; securing the support of parks or public works departments within municipalities to install benches and places to rest for those with reduced strength; taking into account local climate conditions to design solutions that increase the potential for older citizens to maintain their mobility throughout the year. An innovative example funded by the UK government has resulted in free transit passes to senior citizens for use outside of rush hours.
  • A key insight to help seniors make the transition from driving to taking public transit is that there is a marked psychological difference between "private space" offered by driving one's car and the "public space" that is by definition the case with public transit. Acknowledging this could positively influence the design of educational programs.
  • More focus needs to be placed on the needs of those with disabilities. It is particularly important to monitor people living alone in order to overcome problems with isolation.

How to Engage with Stakeholders

  • Working with seniors' groups was suggested as a way to identify and overcome barriers to mobility. In addition to bringing individual insights, this approach can help identify problems unique to the local environment by tapping into networks of seniors seeking solutions. Since many seniors came to Canada as immigrants, this approach can usefully address cultural issues. The UK Foresight program has been in place for many years and is implemented locally with good results, responding to local needs and variations across cultural norms. In addition to demonstrating respect for the needs of older citizens, it is also a very effective way to identify issues and "nip problems in the bud."
  • To raise the profile of seniors' issues within a community, municipalities or service agencies can sponsor local cable programming or regular columns in a local newspaper. It is important to report progress as well as to identify problems.
  • To encourage older citizens to plan ahead for the time when they are no longer driving, programs should be developed that help seniors assess their cognitive skills and develop self-awareness in a very sensitive area. Research shows that some deficits can be mitigated through retraining, which can keep a senior citizen safely behind the wheel. In other cases, bringing together groups of seniors thought to be at risk of losing their licences could stimulate action to enhance transportation services or develop volunteer driver networks.
  • In some U.S. jurisdictions, "training" programs teach seniors how to use public transit—for many, a new experience. Undertaking sensitivity training for bus drivers, collaborating with marketing specialists—and more—represent innovative ways to provide seniors with a better transportation experience.
  • Undertaking neighbourhood audits is a very powerful tool. There are advantages to having these audits carried out by municipal or related experts or professional staff, but recruiting seniors to add their voice is likely to produce different but potentially complementary results. The use of intergenerational focus groups is also a useful way to enhance the experience for senior citizens as well as to instigate a culture of understanding and mutual support that will be beneficial in years to come.

Tools to Facilitate Successful Implementation

  • Tools likely to get good results might include the innovative use of technology to track activity levels within the home. This is particularly important for seniors whose mobility is known to be restricted. An example from Japan allows relatives to monitor via the Internet how many times a kettle is boiled. When there is no activity for a defined period, an alarm is triggered. Another example, which could be developed with local hydro and gas companies, would monitor power usage and send reports to care agencies when levels are lower than expected.
  • Another approach would be to map services such as transit routes and relate to activity points and the location of "mobility providers" willing to volunteer their services. Nova Scotia has developed tools to identify "service-rich" and "service- poor" communities from the perspective of seniors. Private sector and community responses include grocery deliveries, mobile banking and mobile libraries. Although this helps mitigate the situation for those who have lost or are losing their physical mobility, it does not address the broader social and health-related issues such as ensuring seniors are able to walk within their neighbourhoods—the importance of natural exercise cannot be overemphasized. There have been meals on wheels for many years, but some communities are experimenting with contacting seniors known to be on their own and potentially isolated and driving them to a communal eating facility to provide opportunities for social interaction.
  • Participants also noted the value of establishing a single clearing house for information on monitoring tools such as locally maintained Web sites. There are many "walkability" assessment tools in development (particularly in the U.S.) and a site that helps people select the appropriate tool for their community would be welcome. These assessments can be comprehensive, or focused on particular issues such as pedestrian safety. Mapping accident locations (as done in New York) is the first step toward analysis and ultimately developing solutions.
  • A longer-term strategy affecting the design of local transportation services would be to work with transit companies to increase the number of smaller vehicles suitable for use in low-density residential subdivisions. Shuttles to shops and services could be augmented with dial-a-ride transit access. As baby boomers age, future generations of seniors will possibly be more open to the application of high-tech solutions.
  • In some jurisdictions, to make the best use of community resources, school buses are being used to provide service to seniors at hours that complement school schedules. Other solutions in more rural or remote areas would see value in making taxi vouchers available, particularly to those with financial difficulties.
  • Finding ways to better use community assets is fundamental to the affordability and financial sustainability of solutions. This approach should be applied to housing options as well. Examples cited include the use of spare capacity in private seniors' residential facilities as temporary living space for those transitioning from hospital back to their homes. The value of collaborative and imaginative solutions has to be combined with a willingness of those in decision-making roles to take on risk and "creatively interpret" the existing rulebook.
  • Recruiting retired "ambassadors" to travel within a transit system whose role it would be to call out stops or provide assistance and advice would mitigate the fear and uncertainty factor that prevents older citizens from taking on new challenges. Other effective solutions include creating car share systems that allow seniors to offer their vehicles for community use—creating a community benefit out of a potentially traumatic loss of independence.

Glenn Miller, FCIP, RPP
Canadian Urban Institute
March 2010

Tip Sheet 2: Baker's Dozen Hints for Building and Sustaining Successful Partnerships

Note: This tip sheet was developed following the Age-Friendly Communities Invitational Forum, held March 23-24, 2010.

  1. There is no best way to build and sustain successful partnerships. Rather than following a philosophy of "best practice," prospective partners should discuss and search for "smart practices" that fit with their particular purposes and circumstances.
  2. There are different types of partnerships, including public-public partnerships (intergovernmental partnerships), public-non-profit (social partnerships, public-private partnerships (triple Ps), and multiple-partner arrangements. The power relationships and dynamics inside different types of partnerships can vary significantly.
  3. Understanding power relationships inside partnerships is crucial to success. Partnerships can be consultative (advisory, not decision making), contributory (provision of financial, staff and other resources), operational (a sharing of work and resources, but not decision making) and collaborative (a sharing of authority, decision making and resources).
  4. Partnerships tend to follow a life cycle in which the dynamics of interaction and power relationships differ at different stages. A four-stage-partnership life cycle might involve the following: pre-partnership collaboration; partnership creation; partnership implementation, and partnership termination.
  5. Partnership can arise both spontaneously and in a more planned manner. There are a number of tools for activating a partnership: ideas/rhetoric; the capacity to convene; authority; money; technology, and reputation and trust based on past experience of working together.
  6. Leadership within partnerships is less about the personal qualities of individuals and more about the quality of the interactions among partnerships. Leading and managing (the two activities are related and not that different) across organizational boundaries requires different knowledge and skills from leadership/management within the administrative hierarchy of a single organization.
  7. Understanding the potential and limits of power as a means to getting things done within partnerships is crucial to effective leadership. Partnerships rely more on types of "soft" power (inducement, attraction, influence, persuasion) than on "hard" power (authority, pressure, coercion).
  8. Leaders must exercise power in an ethical matter that generates trust. Trust consists of positive assumptions about the motivations, intentions, reliability and competence of others. In partnerships, trust is the substitute for authority found in individual organizations. Trust takes time to develop, but can be lost quickly.
  9. Realism requires a recognition that disagreements and conflicts are inevitable in even the best partnerships. A lack of shared aims, divergent perspectives on how to achieve those aims, differing levels of commitment, imbalances in turf protection, resources and capacities, and unilateral actions can all give rise to conflict. Conflicts must not be personalized and when possible must be resolved in a constructive manner.
  10. Managing conflict and avoiding the blame game when something goes wrong requires that partnerships be run in a professional manner. The development of a matrix of roles and responsibilities for different decisions/actions is helpful. Decision making should be mainly participatory and consensus-based. Accountability maps can be drawn to define who is answerable for different aspects of partnership arrangements.
  11. There has never been a change initiative that has failed from too much communication. Communications must be approached from both a strategic and a tactical perspective. Leaders should use open and frequent communications to promote a shared culture of mutual understanding, respect and honesty.
  12. There are heightened requirements for many types of accountability in the public sector today, with a strong emphasis on accountability for results. Ongoing monitoring and feedback as well as periodic in-depth evaluations are necessary both for learning and improvement and for meeting accountability obligations to a wide range of stakeholders.
  13. Partnerships can have many benefits, but there are also costs, most notably the need for hard work and perseverance to achieve results. The processes of building and sustaining partnerships are often as important as the tangible outputs and outcomes. Taking time to celebrate small wins is important. Maintain a sense of humour and have fun.

Dr. Paul G. Thomas
Duff Roblin Professor of Government
St. John's College
University of Manitoba
March 2010

Resources on Evaluation Techniques

Centre for Excellence in Assisted Living. (2009). A Manual for Community-Based Participatory Research: Using Research to Improve Practice and Inform Policy in Assisted Living.

Community Health Information Systems Working Group. (1994). Outcome Indicators: A Review of Literature and Framework for Development. Canadian Institute for Health Information, Ottawa.

Health Canada. (1996). Guide to Project Evaluation: A Participatory Approach. Health Canada, Ottawa.

Rutnick, T.A. and M. Campbell. (2002). When and How to Use External Evaluators. The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

The Center for Health Promotion, Department of Public Health Services, University of Toronto. (2007). Evaluating Health Promotion Programs. Toronto2.

Guides and Toolkits

Age-Friendly Web Sites

Other sites of interest

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