In January 2019, WCHIP decided to incorporate a focus on older adults' health by strengthening partnerships with the aging sector into the revision of the 2017-2019 Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) as a part of the Health Equity Strategic Priority Area. To align with the community's focus, this was also included in the 2019-2021 DOH-Walton Strategic Plan. The goal of this model practice is to increase collaboration with the aging sector by aligning the MAPP framework and the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities guidance. The objectives were (1) By December 31, 2019, collaborate with four aging sector partners on community events or initiatives; (2) By June 30, 2019, collaborate with one local government or municipality to apply for the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities; (3) By July 31, 2019, conduct community survey of older adults to determine subjective needs.
For (1) By December 31, 2019, collaborate with four aging sector partners on community events or initiatives, DOH-Walton and WCHIP actively collaborated with five of the aging sector partners on community events or initiatives. DOH-Walton did not come in trying to lead the practice, but to just facilitate and garner strategic collaboration on specific activities. DOH-Walton was able to support initiatives already in place, and this helped receive buy-in” by aging sector partners. This exceeded the goal of four community collaborations. The collaborations were based on the environmental scan completed in January 2019. The collaborations were both with established partners, Northwest Florida Area Agency on Aging and Walton Okaloosa Council on Aging, and new partners, Emerald Coast Hospice, DeFuniak Springs Life Enrichment Center, and AARP Florida. The first collaboration occurred in May 2019 when DOH-Walton and WCHIP sponsored the Northwest Florida Area Agency on Aging's Annual Regional Training Symposium. The symposium was attended by aging sector service providers, including both social and healthcare services, in Northwest Florida. At the event, DOH-Walton and WCHIP provided attendees with topical information and shared the vision of Age-Friendly Walton. Attendees were invited to the next WCHIP community meeting. In June 2019, Emerald Coast Hospice facilitated the Virtual Dementia Tour for DOH-Employees, including those that are assigned a role at the special needs shelter during emergencies, and the public for Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month. The Virtual Dementia Tour is an evidence-based method of building a greater understanding of dementia. During the Virtual Dementia Tour experience, trained facilitators guide participants outfitted with patented devices that alter their senses while they tried to complete common everyday tasks and exercises. The Virtual Dementia Tour enabled participants to experience for themselves the physical and mental challenges those with dementia face and used the experience to provide better person-centered care, especially in a special needs shelter in an emergency. There were over 50 participants for the Virtual Dementia Tour. Emerald Coast Hospice needed a location to host the Virtual Dementia Tour in Walton County, so the collaboration was mutually beneficial. Starting July 2019, DeFuniak Springs Life Enrichment Senior Center hosted the Diabetes Prevention Program (DDP) classes for older adults. DPP is the CDC-recognized lifestyle change program, a research-based program focusing on healthy eating and physical activity which showed that people with prediabetes who take part in a structured lifestyle change program can cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% (71% for people over 60 years old). In November 2019, Walton Okaloosa Council on Aging hosted the Walton County Veterans' Information Fair. Based on the data gathered in the initial assessment, the executive director of Walton Okaloosa Council on Aging believed the number of veterans in Walton County was underestimated. In an attempt to better link those veterans that are not receiving services to available services, the first Veteran's Information Fair was established. In November 2019, AARP Florida sponsored the Healthy Walton Summit and highlighted available programs. AARP Florida's Associate State Director for Advocacy & Outreach participated in the discussion panel to address the needs of older adults and available AARP resources.
For (2) By June 30, 2019, collaborate with one local government or municipality to apply for the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. In Fall of 2018, DOH-Walton entered the Age-Friendly Public Health Learning Collaborative, facilitated by the Florida Department of Health and Trust for America's Health, and sponsored by the John A. Hartford Foundation. The participants in the network were given $5,000 to support any activities targeted to older adults. The overall goal for the initiative is to implement a public health framework to improve the health and well-being of older adults, focusing on areas where public health can support, complement, or enhance aging services. The initiative promotes the innovative aging work in Florida already under way, including the implementation of Age-Friendly Communities, which help to build rapport between the public health and aging sectors and contribute to a national movement to advance an age-friendly public health system. Most of this practice was initiated from the inclusion of this collaborative. Starting in January 2019, WCHIP held monthly meetings with the aging sector specifically to launch the Age-Friendly Walton initiative. The attendees of the meetings completed an environmental scan, identified areas of improvement, and decided to work toward applying for inclusion in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. In April 2019, DOH-Walton and the Walton Okaloosa Council on Aging, with the support of the Walton County Board of County Commissioners via official resolution, drafted and submitted the application to the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. In May 2019, Walton County, Florida become the first community in the Florida Panhandle to be included in the network. Membership into this network means that the community's elected leadership has made the commitment to actively work toward making their county a great place to live for people of all ages. Participation in the network involved following a multi-step process of improvement, similar to the MAPP framework. Inclusion in the AARP network also comes with inclusion in the World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities. Aging sector participants in 2019 included: DOH-Walton, Coastal Seniors of South Walton, Tri-County Community Council – Transportation, Walton Okaloosa Council on Aging, Humana Medicaid, Walton County Prevention Coalition, Walton County Planning Department, Emerald Coast Hospice, Northwest Florida Area Agency on Aging, Okaloosa-Walton Medical Reserve Corps, Caring and Sharing of South Walton, SoWal Community Chaplain, Kindred at Home, Walton County Housing Authority, WZEP 1460 AM, Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast, Walton Community Health Center, Pancare of Florida, Homeless and Housing Alliance, Habitat for Humanity – Walton County, Chautauqua Healthcare Services of Lakeview Center, University of Florida IFAS Extension Office, Walton County Government, AARP Florida, Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida, DeFuniak Springs Life Enrichment Center, and Florida Department of Elder Affairs.
For (3) By July 31, 2019, conduct community survey of older adults to support the Community Themes and Strengths Assessment of the MAPP framework, DOH-Walton utilized the new community aging-sector partners to administer a survey to determine the community's needs for the 2020-2022 CHIP. Hospice agencies took surveys into the homes of clients, and local senior centers promoted the survey to their patrons. The results of the survey were delineated to determine what older adults believe the top community health issues were locally. With 112 responses, the top issues for those over the age of 60 were unaffordable and inaccessible housing, limited community resources for vulnerable populations (older adults, individuals with disabilities, homeless, etc.), and crime. The top indicated unhealthy behavior” in their community was drug use.
Though there was a mini-grant that initiated this practice, most of the expenses from the $5,000 were travel-related costs to statewide age-friendly meetings, promotional items, and the sponsorship for the Northwest Florida Area Agency on Aging's Annual Regional Training Symposium. These costs are not required to implement this practice. This practice was successful due to the ability to coordinate existing resources through new community partnerships. DOH-Walton facilitated the meetings and planning process for community partners, and the implementation was a collaborative effort with different aging sector taking lead for certain activities. This practice was led by the part-time CHIP Facilitator and the part-time CHIP Co-Facilitator, already established positions budgeted through general revenue.