Mount Washington Valley Regional Age Friendly Initiative

Covers: Albany, Bartlett, Chatham, Conway, Eaton, Freedom, Fryeburg, Maine, Jackson, Madison, Tamworth and Hart’s Location

Mission, Vision & Goals

Mission: To combine the talents resources across our eleven towns to make the Mount Washington Valley a place for all ages and abilities to thrive.

Vision: Citizens of all ages can say they would rather live here than anywhere else.

Goal: Our working groups cover the domains of Transportation, Housing, Health, Community Connections, and Outdoor Spaces. Each group has developed their own goals based on the identified needs within our region.

Broad Overview

The Mount Washington Valley Regional Age Friendly Initiative began in 2018 and consists of 11 towns in both New Hampshire and Maine.

How is your age-friendly initiative structured?

Our Steering Committee consists of 11 representatives from each town chosen by the Board of Selectmen and includes several Selectmen themselves. The Gibson Center for Senior Services is the convenor of the Steering Committee that will submit the Action Plan for the region and oversee the implementation of the Plan.  AARP Age-Friendly Community structure identifies Domains of Livability.  We have 5 Domain Working Groups: Transportation, Housing, Health, Outdoor Spaces and Community connections that each have additional members of the community advising them on the appropriate Goals. The Gibson Center will help this initiative apply for grants when appropriate. As this is a regional effort, grants will be handled on a case by case basis.

Describe any partnerships you have developed?

Memorial Hospital
VN Home and Hospice
MWV Housing Coalition
Regional Collaborative
MWV Economic Council
Transportation Network
Healthcare Collaborative
Granite United Public Health Network
Gibson Center
Conway Daily Sun
RSVP
Mt. Washington Valley Trails Association
Conway Public Library and all the Valley libraries
Upper Saco Valley Land Trust
Town Recreation Directors

What is the role of volunteers?

50-75% of the individuals involved the Mount Washington Valley Regional Age Friendly Initiative are volunteers. Our volunteers are leading and driving the work.

Strategies that have contributed to your success? Barriers you have encountered?

Our initiative has benefited from fact that the coalitions and collaboratives already existed within our communities.

A soft barrier we have identified is that the AARP model is municipality oriented. In a rural area like ours, we are regionally oriented. We needed to adjust the model. A solution to this barrier was to put one Government official name from one town on the application. However, we made sure everyone knew that it was on paper only and that no one town was in charge of this initiative. It was important for us that every town felt empowered and just as important as the largest town.

We have also found a barrier with the learning curve that comes with using the communication platform called Basecamp. We have found it actually cumbersome and unnecessary.

Types of funding that your initiative has received

AARP New Hampshire Grant

Community Initiatives

Transportation

Our Transportation working group has developed the goal to disseminate the newly revised Countywide Transportation Guide. We intend to send this resource guide to identified organizations, develop promotion strategies, and generate a list of email contacts. This resource guide will be an important tool for residents in our region to use as they need to be aware of the resources, contact mechanisms, regulations and availability of our multiple transportation options before more work is done to create new options.

Chores, Handyman & Upkeep

Our Housing workgroup has developed 5 goals to focus on as this initiative moves forward.

#1 Goal:  Create ADU Town-specific MWV Guide.
The Need: Reduce the barriers to homeowners considering building ADUs.
Specific: Complete a town by town comparison of the zoning, size restrictions, parking, attached vs. detached and other characteristics of allowable ADUs under the 2016 ADU New Hampshire law. Second, Phase 2 – develop a comprehensive plan for pushing the information out to communities and homeowners.

#2 Goal: Create a listing of all the subsidized housing in the region.
The Need: Comprehensive and easily accessed information for those seeking affordable housing.
Specific: Develop a current list of the subsidized, affordable housing options, their managers' contact information, and their restrictions; make this guide available across the Valley.

#3 Goal: Create MWV-Gibson HomeShare Network.
The Need: Pair home-seekers with homeowners who have empty space to rent thereby increasing affordable workforce housing and help older adults continue to age in place.
Specific: Complete the legal, insurance, policy, PR plan, intake/interview and guideline documents for successful HomeShare based on other USA models (HomeShareVermont, HomeShareNow, HomeShareSanLuisObispo and others). Create the budget, PR program, website, secure the Advisory Group and obtain grant funding as needed.

#4 Goal: Develop recommendations for zoning improvement to allow more diverse cluster or housing units to meet the current needs of citizens.
The Need: Reduce the barriers to towns creating affordable and workforce housing.
Specific: Develop detailed proposals for planning boards that create more options for towns to permit diverse housing.

#5 Goal: Develop Legislation to incentivize long-term rentals.
The Need: Create incentives for long-term rentals (ADU’s, apartments, homes, shared housing) to counteract short term rental trends.
Specific: Develop detailed proposals to put forward with our state legislators to create state and town specific incentives for long term rentals.  Secondarily, develop the strategies for creating the constituencies to back such legislation.

Health & Wellness

The first goal is to upgrade our inputs to the 211 information resource. This is a free, statewide, zip code specific site for access by anyone in the community to search for needed services. While the 211 website has recently been upgraded, it still lacks current information from our local agencies. Our plan is to create a list of local relevant agencies and target a specific day (or week) and person to upgrade their service information to the 211 site. We will confirm this has been done. We plan to expand to ServiceLink and eventually to town library links.

The second goal is to partner with Memorial Hospital’s plan for a “100 Days of Wellness” campaign and include the list of most walkable trails (see Accessibility & Walkability) as an opportunity to earn double points if all 11 are completed.  We want to create a challenge for the Valley for various age groups and abilities to use these trails. In a second phase, we intend to find up to 3 most walkable trails in each of the 11 towns and create a “Footers” Challenge to complete them all.

The third goal is to increase the utilization of the Referral Education Assistance and Prevention (REAP) in-home services from Northern Human Services. We have identified the need for mental health visits for both caregivers and clients, as many suffer from anxiety, depression, and anger. This service is currently under-utilized and we plan to increase the number of REAP clients to capacity.

The fourth goal of the Health working group is to promote the Conway PD and Sheriff’s office Good Morning program whereby individuals living alone call in by 10:00 each morning to assure their safety. There is a need to identify older adults living at home alone who may have fallen, experienced a stroke, or another health event. We have learned from Chief Chris Perley, President of the local Chiefs Association that there is considerable additional capacity. We hope to expand the programs that already exist through our local police and sheriff departments to reduce isolation and help those aging in place.

The fifth goal is to expand the existing Memory and Music program that pairs youth with seniors (presently at Merriman House) to interview the elder to learn their favorite music to be downloaded into donated MP3 or ipod players for the senior’s use.   We will partner with K-Kids, and Girl Scouts and boy Scouts, obtain training using Maine Health grants and work to expand into an additional nursing home and the Adult Day Care Center that opens in July 2019.

Social, Educational & Recreational

The Community Connections working group has developed the goal of fostering intergenerational relationships with educational institutions. There are opportunities for building upon current programs to increase participation and interaction in our schools. Two of our towns have specific projects we will foster and replicate if successful – see Community Garden below.

Our Outdoor Spaces working group has developed the goal of creating Benchlet spaces within our communities that will combine seating, activities and potentially food access for greater attraction and socialization for people of all ages in our existing parks. We identified a need for more open space concepts as we have multiple parks but limited arrangements that combine these elements. We plan to complete an inventory and identify best potential areas for development by towns, including gardening clubs, sports teams, and recreation departments.

Food, Gardening & Cooking

Our Outdoor Spaces working group has developed a goal to create an Age Friendly Community Garden. There is a need for intergenerational activities near the elementary and middle school in the Town of Bartlett that builds upon prior interest and creates a replicable model for other towns.

The Gibson Center provides home delivered meals through the Meals on Wheels program. Along with older adults, the Gibson Center also provides caregivers with a meal if they wish. They deliver meals to the towns of Albany, Bartlett, Chatham, the Conways, Eaton, Hart’s Location, Jackson and Madison.

Accessibility & Walkability

Based on the identified need of greater awareness of walking trails, our Outdoor Spaces working group has developed a goal to create a list of the most walkable and ADA accessible trails within our region in hopes that residents will be more likely to use them. The team will include maps, parking locations, and brief descriptions of existing trails in MWV. Each trail that is added to the list will have a minimal elevation change, minimal root/rock impediments, and will be reasonably accessible by people of all ages and abilities.

Communication

The Community Connections working group has identified a need for setting up more email exchanges in all towns and to expand the list of service providers. People need simple information systems where they can obtain names of reputable providers of various services and/or exchange information of current events or needs in the town. We plan to enlist a person in each town to create a listing of services available and create a town bulletin board or email exchange set up similar to the ones already in use in Freedom, Tamworth, Madison, and Jackson.

Region

Models

Contact

Marianne Jackson
Chair of Steering Committee, Board Member of the Gibson Center for Senior Services
Gibson Center for Senior Services
14 Grove Street, North Conway, NH 03860
mjaxnmd@gmail.com