Phase 3: Identify Community Needs and Assets to Inform Program Development
Create and Distribute Needs and Assets Assessment Survey/ Host Community Consultations for Oasis Residents and Community
Rather than create a formal needs assessment survey to disseminate to members across sites, the needs and assets assessments were conducted in-person during the initial meetings and information sessions. Our team used a combination of different methods to maximize reach – posting an envelope on the public bulletin board where members could leave ideas anonymously, posting large pieces of paper on the walls of the common rooms with post-it notes and markers so members could identify needs and desires, and for larger groups, holding round table discussions with paper covered tables so members could discuss among small groups and leave feedback behind as they moved from table to table in a world café format. Publicly displaying the feedback and ideas provided by members in the common spaces was received positively by the groups and provided opportunity for members to build on each other’s ideas and give feedback on the ideas that they also preferred. Photos below show some examples of these interactive meetings and their outcomes.
Additionally, we held a community consultation in each city in order to engage local partners and determine which services/support they were willing and able to provide to the Oasis communities. We describe these consultations in detail in Phase 4. At this point in the project, we had an initial list of ideas from the Oasis sites to present to the partners, but community consultations continued over the duration of the project as members came up with new ideas and we engaged new partners. In total, we engaged nearly 50 community partners who supported Oasis programming across the sites.
Analyze Survey and Community Consultation Data
After the members had engaged in consultation for a couple of weeks, we compiled all the data and reviewed it. Member suggestions and ideas were grouped into the three Oasis pillars: nutrition, physical activity and socialization. Across sites, we were able to identify similarities between suggestions, for example, most sites suggesting hosting a weekly coffee hour; however, there were also different suggestions at each site that clearly reflected the unique needs or wants of each group. For example, at one of the Kingston sites, a couple of members mentioned an interest in learning American Sign Language in order to communicate with a Deaf neighbor in the building who had just joined Oasis. The suggestions also reflected members’ abilities; for example, a Kingston site with a younger average membership age suggested more physical activities and walking outings as compared to the Hamilton site who had an older population, on average.
Once the activities and programming were analyzed, the community developers identified those that could be easily organized to start as soon as possible. In most cases, the first activity was an established regular coffee hour, which simply required an advertisement, coffee, tea, and mugs, and a volunteer to turn on the coffeemaker. The team ensured this activity started quickly after the first few meetings in order to establish a schedule and create momentum to encourage members to organize further activities. However, other activities took much longer to develop, including the community meal programs. See Phase 6 to learn more about the process of developing the Oasis nutrition pillar across the newly expanded sites.
Phase 3 Key Take-Aways:
Conduct a needs and assets assessment using whatever methods the group are most receptive to; if a formal survey does not garner many responses, try activity-based engagement
Use the three pillars of socialization, nutrition and physical activity to guide the grouping of activity and programming ideas
Use member ideas to further engage community organizations and services in program development
Start implementing activities that are “low-hanging fruit” – ones that do not require a lot of organization or materials and external supports – before organizing more complex activities (outings, workshops, etc.)