Age-friendly community capacity building in Newfoundland and Labrador

Russell, Elizabeth A. (2015) Age-friendly community capacity building in Newfoundland and Labrador. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Although the number of communities in Canada implementing Age-Friendly programming is growing every year, few of these programs have been evaluated. The current research used social capital theory to study and to evaluate age-friendliness in Newfoundland and Labrador. Social capital is a useful theoretical framework when studying the impact of Age-Friendly community capacity building. Some communities may experience few challenges when bringing together volunteers and community members, whereas for others, this may be a major obstacle. A mixed methods approach to data collection included a) surveys of 23 communities, including surveys completed by 45 individual Age-Friendly committee members, b) an analysis of existing census and health data, and c) qualitative focus groups or interviews with 35 committee members in 11 communities, and with 43 seniors in 4 communities. In total, 108 people and 24 communities participated in this research. Communities were primarily small in population and were located in rural areas of Newfoundland and Labrador. Nearly all provincial geographic regions were represented in the analysis. Participants from communities with a high overall satisfaction with life had a significantly higher social capital score, and participants from communities with a high income per capita had a significantly lower sense of community than those living in a medium income per capita community. Population change significantly predicated sense of community, such that communities experiencing population outmigration experienced a lower sense of community. Qualitative findings indicated benefits for communities related to intergenerational programming, and for seniors, related to health, social support, and technological education. Outmigration both increased the need for Age-Friendly programming given aging populations, and created a challenge for program development given volunteer burnout, typically addressed by community capacity building and maximizing social capital resources. Those communities who experienced lower levels of bonding social capital typically had more problems developing this capacity. Overall, community social capital was a helpful framework in understanding the success of community-based initiatives in rural or small-town Newfoundland and Labrador.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 8440
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 148-162).
Keywords: Age-Friendly Communities, Aging, Rural, Social Capital, Community Development
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: May 2015
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Rural development--Newfoundland and Labrador; Social capital (Sociology)--Newfoundland and Labrador; Older people--Services for--Newfoundland and Labrador

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