Understanding the Community

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Guiding Principle # 1

Effective NORC programs are built on a thorough understanding of the community and the residents who live there.

A wide-angle snapshot of a naturally occurring retirement community and the area that surrounds it, taken through the lens of its inhabitants, allows a program to respond to community needs. With a fuller understanding of the community, a NORC program can draw on local strengths and reflect the values and priorities of the aging population that lives there.

Many program planners know how to conduct a needs assessment, which typically asks individuals to identify their most important needs so that they can be provided with useful services. But the process of understanding the community to design a NORC program involves more. While a needs assessment may play a role, the broader goal is to capture the context in which the community operates.

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