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Faced with the COVID-19 crisis, communities in Massachusetts have come together in inspiring ways to assess emerging needs, provide credible information, expand access to services, and provide opportunities for older adults and caregivers to connect with each other and with their neighbors.

FSG partnered with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, and Tufts Health Plan Foundation to create a resource that can be used to understand older adults’ experiences of the pandemic; learn from community adaptations during the COVID-19 crisis response; and act on the programs, policy and funding changes, relationship-building efforts, and other steps required to reach a desired future.

The piece includes practical tools for prompting reflection, making commitments, and taking action. We hope this resource will support cross-sector collaborative efforts underway in many communities.

Top Takeaways

  1. Older adults have been particularly affected by COVID-19. The pandemic has also brought widespread attention to the stark disparities faced by communities of color and underscored the need for organizations to focus explicitly on creating an inclusive and equitable system of support for older adults.
  2. Community organizations adapted quickly to provide access to crucial information and services and were enabled to do so by increased flexibility and support from funders and policymakers.
  3. Organizations, partnerships, funders, and policymakers can learn from communities’ responses and take intentional steps to scale and sustain recent efforts in order to continue meeting community needs and build back stronger after this crisis.
A critical question for many local organizations is how to sustain the flexibility and creativ­ity that supported communities in responding to urgent and evolving challenges. Organizations can continue removing barriers to action and participation, and everyone can learn from recent work to inform the future.

COVID-19 has also heightened the imperative for community partners, funders, and policy-makers to explicitly support efforts led by and for communities of color and to shift their culture, practices, and policies so that their efforts go further in advancing equity and justice.

This research was funded by Tufts Health Plan Foundation.