A multisector plan for aging (MPA) is an umbrella term for a state-led, multi-year planning process that convenes cross-sector stakeholders to collaboratively address the needs of older adults and people with disabilities. States use a variety of names for these plans (e.g., master plans, strategic plans, and aging-well plans), but all have the same broad goals.

Kim McCoy Wade is senior advisor on Aging, Disability and Alzheimer’s for the Office of California Governor Gavin Newsom and previously served as director of the California Department of Aging. In both positions, she has played a key role in developing and implementing California’s Master Plan for Aging. In this blog post, she offers advice for other states that are beginning this journey. Her tips below are condensed from a presentation made at an in-person Center for Health Care Strategies’ learning collaborative meeting.

Seven Key Tips to Facilitate Multisector Plan for Aging Success

  1. “A multisector plan for aging is not another policy document that will sit on the shelf, we’re trying to build a movement to improve both communities and care for all of us as we age.”

    Kim McCoy Wade
    Elevate your cause. It’s important to elevate the multisector plan for aging — it is about people, not programs, and should be bigger than a Department of Aging. In California, the Governor’s commitment to issue an Executive Order for a Master Plan for Aging is a big deal that set the stage for success. California then convened a Cabinet Work Group, representing all 11 Cabinet Agencies and other Executive offices, that worked across government on the plan. Leading with the state data trends that 1 in 4 Californians will soon be 60 and over, with more diversity than ever, impacted and engaged all of government. This Work Group acted in parallel with a very engaged stakeholder community.
  2. Make it personal. Aging is about all of us and people respond to stories. Pair data with stories to make your points stick. Each of the leaders that you want to influence has a personal connection to aging (e.g., a parent with dementia), so listen and learn what that connection is. Also, ensure that materials are inclusive — California took great strides to ensure that the Master Plan for Aging was for Californians of all ages and abilities and made efforts to use inclusive and accessible language and images in documents, so everyone could see themselves and their families in the plan.
  3. The train is leaving the station — get on the train. Identify your governor’s key priority issues and align them with your goals. In California, major priorities are equity, housing, climate change, and health for all. The Department of Aging team focused on how these priorities were important to older adults and people with disabilities and ensured older adults and people with disabilities were included in these discussions.
  4. Become a resource and offer to help. There’s no better way to build partnerships than to offer to help. To strengthen ties across the Cabinet, we offered to review planning documents from other agencies — such as housing, transportation, workforce, emergency services, and broadband — and identified areas where older adults and people with disabilities could be included. We also provided data on the ways that older adults interact with those departments, as well as subject matter experts and stakeholders.
  5. Use a potluck strategy. California started a “Webinar Wednesdays” series, where each week a different department was invited to present on how it is serving older adults and people with disabilities. The webinar included a short presentation from a department representative, a subject matter expert, and a stakeholder, followed by an opportunity for discussion. This was another mechanism for engagement across state agencies.
  6. “It is important to identify some early wins to help build momentum — be strategic about building some of these into the plan.”

    Kim McCoy Wade
    Give each agency a way to contribute. It’s important that each leader see themselves and their agency priorities in the multisector plan for aging. We gave “assignments” to each cabinet member asking them to explore how their agency addresses the needs of older adults and people with disabilities. Each department was asked to identify: (1) something that was likely to happen (“quick win”); (2) items in progress that seemed likely to move ahead; and (3) reach goals. This ensured that each agency had their own priorities amplified in the plan and that they were committed to its success.
  7. Engage stakeholders as co-creators. We engaged Californians across the state in a year-long process of public engagement, surveys, community roundtables, and listening sessions.The Executive Order created a Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) to guide development of the Master Plan for Aging. SAC members committed to work, not just occupy a seat at the table. Subcommittees engaged even more advocates. California, with the support of philanthropy, engaged several consultants — including a non-state non-profit policy organization — to assist with coordinating the work of the SAC and distilling it into specific stakeholder recommendations to the Department on Aging for inclusion in the plan. Consultants also assisted with coordinating inputs from California agencies, and communications support.

Applying the Lessons

Many other states recognize the value of multisector plans for aging to create a clear framework for addressing the needs of older adults and people with disabilities across agencies. Ten states are engaged in CHCS’ Multisector Plan For Aging Learning Collaborative to build on work already underway in their states. Each state’s work to improve aging for its residents will be different, and we can’t wait to see how the multisector plan for aging movement spreads in other states — and perhaps someday nationally, too.

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