Designing and Implementing a NORC Program

Armed with substantive knowledge about the community, and with key stakeholders and resources at the table, a NORC program designs and implements projects that meet both individual and population-based needs. That dual focus, hard though it may be to maintain, facilitates the changes necessary to transform a community into a good place to grow old.

At the first level, NORC program planners and stakeholders, including seniors, develop a basic service package for individual residents. The program can provide these services directly, gain access to them through community partners, or find other creative solutions to meet needs without duplicating what already exists. At the second level, which is equally important, the partners craft projects that address community-wide issues and strengthen the community as a whole.

Many issues in a NORC affect large numbers of people. Rather than address them “one hip fracture at a time” – a reactive approach – the NORC program model is proactive, anticipating and planning for community needs. Such an approach demands purposeful action and a framework that supports its mission. To advance towards goals, partners need to agree on what they are trying to improve, make decisions about the program’s focus and activities, and raise funds to make it all happen. In an ever-changing environment, flexibility and innovation are essential.

Seniors play a central role in helping to embed the NORC program in the larger community. They are not only clients with a diverse array of needs and interests, they are residents with a rich network of relationships, knowledge, skills, and expertise. Effective programs enable seniors to take on new roles in their communities – as leaders, project developers and supporters, program extenders, and program ambassadors – while also responding to their individual service requirements.

To tackle the many dimensions of aging successfully in place, NORC programs need:

  • A solid infrastructure and a plan to launch operations.
  • The right mix of staffing and resources.
  • Targeted projects.
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