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Discover Data: Tips for Community Assessments


Sara Link, Director of the Greater Richmond Age Wave Coalition, shares advice on developing community data measures and establishing baselines to prepare for an initial community assessment, as well as more information about the coalition, and how you can get involved. You can find the Greater Richmond Regional Age Wave Readiness Plan in the community resources section of the ConnectVA Community Vital Signs page.

Developing Community Data Measures

In order to assess successes and challenges in our communities, it is important to measure and monitor efforts across a regional to statewide network.  This can be done by utilizing indicators and data that define quality of life and by establishing baseline measures, as an initial community assessment.  These indicators can represent broad, system wide change data or project based outcomes.

Here are a few best practices that the Greater Richmond Age Wave Coalition established while developing a standard system of measurement to help quantify/qualify strengths, gaps and regional challenges ? also known as their ?Regional Scorecard? to track and monitor the community.


Best Practices for Developing Baseline Measures

1. Utilize free to low cost data

2.  Ensure data comes from a reputable source

3.  Data is collected/updated annually and/or with regular frequency

4.  Ability to track/evaluate within a specific service area

5.  Data exists at the lowest possible level (by county, if possible)

6.  Avoid using ranking data or formulaic data that is hard to interpret

It is important to note that certain data points/indicators selected for a ?scorecard? will not directly be influenced (changed) by a coalition and/or broader community effort; however, a core objective should be to select indicators/data points that your efforts can help move or influence over time.

What is the Greater Richmond Age Wave Coalition?

The Greater Richmond Age Wave Planning effort is a coalition of public and private organizations, businesses, academic institutions, and citizens working together to ensure our local region is engaged, connected, prepared and aware of our changing population ?Age Wave?- and how it will transform our society- as both a regional opportunity and challenge. 

This coalition has been in place since 2009 and is led by the Age Wave Leadership Committee, over 30 members, and supported by a broader network of community partners and local governments in four project based Work Groups. This initiative is staffed and managed through a joint partnership between VCU Department of Gerontology and Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging.  

Today, the number of aging baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) is already beginning to outnumber the cohort of school-aged children for the first time in history.  With one out of four adults aging into retirement,  65 and over,  we will being to experience increasing demands for innovation, better health care choices, supportive services enhancing quality of life and lifestyle options that promote independence, safety and healthy aging.

What?s coming up for GRAWC and how can someone get involved?

Active Aging week begins next week – Monday, September 22nd through Friday September 26th.  Led by the International Council on Active Aging, Active Aging Week is an annual health promotion event managed by Age Wave coalition partners that include: The Arthritis Foundation, VCU Department of Gerontology, and Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging Active Aging Week. Collectively we are celebrating older adults in our communities and encouraging participation in over 50 activities, with local partners, that include workshops, forums, classes and trainings. This weeklong celebration is our regional opportunity to strengthen positives images of healthy aging and active lifestyles in our communities that reinforce connections to local resources

 Kickoff event Ramping Up Workplace Activity presented by Sports Backers, features a workshop for businesses and organizations to engage in Active RVA either through a stairwell initiative and/or a certified ?active? business. Farmer Brown?s Mobile Market, LLC will also be on site to bring us local and fresh foods. This event is open to the public and will take place at Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging on Monday, September 22nd at 10:00am.

 The Closing Celebration is an Open House and featuring regional Age Wave progress and keynote speaker: Commissioner James Rothrock, Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. Exhibits will be on display including: Virginia Livable Communities and Elders are our Superheroes with William Fox Elementary students. This is a free event and open to the public. It will be held on Friday, September 26 at Health South Rehabilitation Hospital from 3:00pm to 5:00pm.

Click here for more information on Active Aging Week and if you have a community resource that should be included in the ConnectVA Community Vital Signs page – please email admin@connectva.org.

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