Understand the opportunity in your community
The Assessment phase is a time to gather and analyze information about your community and convene people with an interest in this work. Assessment begins with a focused look at what you already know, followed by research and conversation to fill in the blanks, and time to understand what you’ve learned and share it with others. This process will likely confirm issues or characteristics you knew anecdotally to be true, while also revealing important surprises. In addition to providing information, the process provides an opportunity to convene community stakeholders, establish and strengthen partnerships in the community, support the launch of broad initiatives and planning, and promote the sustainability of older adult community engagement efforts.
Even for those who think they already know the community, the importance of completing an Assessment cannot be stressed enough. You don’t know what you don’t know, and Assessment will give you a clearer sense of the true demographic makeup of older adults in the region, factors that motivate them to become and remain engaged, and barriers that hinder such engagement. Assessment provides an understanding of the context in which you are working—a base on which to build a successful community change effort led by older adults.