project type Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration
client type Government

How the County of Marin harnessed stakeholder input to design its age-friendly action plan

Stakeholder engagement is critical for the success and sustainability of any change effort. Understanding your key stakeholders’ perspectives, issues, and concerns creates more informed decisions. A deeper understanding of what will or won’t work (and why) helps build trust in your change effort. Inviting input and collaborating across a wide diversity of stakeholders increases relevance, ownership, and the impact of change ideas, solutions, and strategies.

Collaborative Consulting helped the County of Marin, California engage its community of stakeholders to design and implement its plan for becoming an age-friendly community for current and future generations of older adults.

The Client

County of Marin Aging and Adult Services provides a multi-disciplinary system of services and supports to promote quality of life and independence for older adults and persons with disabilities. Funding for programs comes from the United States federal government, the state of California, and the County of Marin.

Project Highlights
  • Engaged more than 2,000 Marin area leaders, advocates, and residents in a multi-faceted research process to assess the community’s needs, assets, commitments, and ideas related to programs and services for older adults.
  • Identified and prioritized a detailed set of actions across six priority areas – housing, mobility, community services, disaster preparedness, social connection, and the unincorporated regions – in a robust, age-friendly action plan for the County of Marin.
  • Established governance and onboarded a new coordinator to oversee implementation.
  • With the Age-Forward Plan, Marin County joined the World Health Organization’ and AARP’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.
Their Goals

Adults aged 60+ will make up 30% of Marin County’s population and is projected to reach 38% by 2040. 2025. Given this, County leaders wanted to design and implement a county-wide livable community strategic plan to deliver on their commitment to an age-friendly future.

The project focused on:

  • Gaining a better understanding of the needs of older community members.
  • Generating and collecting ideas for making Marin County more inclusive and livable for its aging population.
  • Formulating an actionable strategic plan that the County, in partnership with community stakeholders, could implement over subsequent years.
How We Helped

We knew that engaging a diverse group of community stakeholders early and often would prove essential for designing an age-friendly plan that truly works for the County’s older adults. We began by creating a multi-stakeholder advisory committee of professionals and community leaders that included leadership of several County departments, members of the Marin County Commission on Aging, the Aging Action Initiative, community-based organizations that serve older adults, faith communities, and other community groups, including representation from the local municipalities age-friendly group. We worked with this committee throughout the project lifecycle to guide the work.

Beyond the committee, we engaged a wider group of stakeholders to assess the community’s assets and needs and gather ideas and commitments for making Marin County a more livable community. We conducted a countywide survey of older adults; facilitated community-level focus groups with older adults, local aging services providers, and community leaders; and interviewed County department leadership. We ultimately collected input from more than 2,000 area residents, leaders, and advocates — about 5% of the area’s population.

Our discovery process also involved deep-dive research into current and emerging local, state, and national policy and market trends and best practices related to improving the health and well-being of aging communities.

Using the information gathered and insights gleaned through the stakeholder engagement and research, we developed a detailed set of action items across six priority areas — housing, mobility, community services, disaster preparedness, social connection, and the unincorporated regions. We then worked closely with the advisory committee to prioritize recommendations into a detailed five-year implementation plan titled Age Forward: A Framework for an Age-Friendly County of Marin. This plan outlined key action items, opportunities, and roles of various stakeholders as well as opportunities for equity to make Marin an age-friendly and livable community. The plan also highlighted opportunities for multiple County of Marin departments to work together to ensure efficient and effective implementation.

With a well-defined plan in place, we worked with the advisory committee to recommend a strategic governance structure to oversee the sustainable implementation of the plan. We helped the Aging and Adult Services recruit and onboard a full-time internal staff member — an analyst who served as the Age-Forward Coordinator — to manage execution, drive coordination and collaboration, and ensure the five-year plan stayed on track.

Key Outcomes

The Marin County Board of Supervisors approved the resulting plan — Age Forward: A Framework for an Age-Friendly County of Marin — in January 2020. The Board also submitted the plan to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) as the official age-friendly action plan for Marin County. As a result, the WHO and AARP accepted the County into its Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.