Sustaining your Program
For the East Point NORC Program, sustainability means contributing to the larger commitments on the part of both the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta to do more than deliver traditional services to older adults. As a pilot project, it is a testing ground for an ambitious effort to reshape the community and make it a vibrant place that supports aging in place.
“We can’t afford to focus all of our resources in one community if it doesn’t have lessons learned for the ten-county metropolitan area we work in,” says Kathryn Lawler of the Atlanta Regional Commission. The East Point transportation coupon project is now being replicated elsewhere in Fulton County.
The commission is interested in nothing less than a fundamental change in its approach to older adults, based on reconciling what the population says that it needs and wants to age in place with what the public sector offers. “We have a strong motivation to focus on big goals,” says Ms. Lawler. “We continue to take ideas we have tried in East Point and use them in other communities looking for solutions. Our mandate is to serve a broader region.”
Likewise, the Federation—which currently oversees six NORC programs in the state, including one located in senior-only housing—is intent on learning what is foundational to a successful initiative and where more flexibility is appropriate. “We want to test out the NORC program model in different settings, with different types of staffing,” says Shira Ledman, former Planning Director of the Federation’s NORC programs. “There are some features that will exist across the board, but each site will have its own unique flavor.” The Federation is working closely with the State Office of Aging to identify new opportunities to introduce NORC programs elsewhere in Georgia.
State funding to the Federation for NORC programs has been a line item in the state budget for the last three years, which does not have the stability that comes from an ongoing legislative commitment. However, as more experience accumulates and as data become available from a recently launched Georgia State University evaluation of these multiple Federation efforts, more ammunition may become available to support a statute to make the NORC program model a permanent strategy in the state of Georgia to advance aging in place.