The Age Friendly Cities Project – A Status Report from the Province of Quebec
The Age Friendly Cities program (AFC) was launched in 2007 by WHO with the goal of creating supportive environments for older adults by initiating policies, services, programs and surroundings that enable healthy aging in the settings where older people live, work, learn, recreate and worship. The Québec Government decided to implement the AFC program in the province, beginning with a five year pilot-project (2008-2013) in six cities of various sizes and a regional area of 22 remote and rural communities (for a total of 28 communities).
The Québec program includes committments of resources that will enable communities to introduce significant programs and activities that facilitate active ageing among older residents. The project is based on a collaborative and participatory approach (a « bottom-up approach ») between a team of researchers at the Research Centre on Aging (Université de Sherbrooke), the Senior’s Secretariat (Ministère de la famille et des aînés) and a steering committee in each community (which includes seniors among its members). The five-year program is divided in three stages:
Stage 1: an in-depth diagnostic of the situation (done in year 1);
Stage 2: an elaborated plan of action including specific activities, person or organisation responsible for each activity and indicators (to be completed at the middle of year 2) and, finally;
Stage 3: implementation phase of the activities (from year 2 to 5).
The Québec initiative also includes an original evaluation proceedure to measure the progress of the various actions taking place in the different milieus, and to appraise the outcomes of theses experiences by looking at different sources (actors, organizations, public policies, etc). Based on the logic model, there is a needs assessment evaluation in phase one (the diagnostic), an implementation evaluation in phases 2 and 3 (the plan of action and its implementation), and finally, an effect evaluation at the end of the project (in year 5). These evaluations are based on different types of indicators; while some are identical to all projects, others are specific to each project in respect of the unique situation of the communities. While the implementation evaluation is done in partnership between all the partners, the impact evaluation is done solely by the researchers.
At the end of the project, in 2013, it was expected that a guide to help all Québec cities to become more age friendly would be launched. But, due to the success of the ongoing project, many cities asked for more immediate support to implement AFC. In 2009, the Ministry of Family and seniors affairs has decided to launch a new program to support communities that wish to implement AFC. Many, if not all cities of Québec can now aim at becoming AFC!
This AFC experience reflects positive aspects of a collaborative approach between political and administrative engagement (both provincial and municipal), action-research and community building! For more information and to keep informed of the results of AFC, please visit Age Friendly Communities online.
Source: International Federation on Ageing. IFA-eNews, juillet 2009.