Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Needham, Massachusetts, needs assessment older residents




This report describes research undertaken by the Center for Social & Demographic Research on Aging within the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD), on behalf of the Town of Needham’s Department of Health & Human Services. The purpose of this study is to identify the aspects of the programming and environment that can be adjusted to ensure that, according to the Mission of the Needham Council on Aging, a “welcoming, inclusive, and secure” environment is maintained for Needham residents.

This study was conducted over the course of 10 weeks (April 2020-June 2020). At this time, the world was responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic; as a result, nearly all activities associated with this project were done remotely. A demographic profile was completed, based on existing, publicly available data about Needham from the US Census Bureau and projections from the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). Two tours of the Center at the Heights (CATH) were completed—one via video conferencing and one building survey that was conducted in-person by partners from ICHD. The project included a web-based survey of residents age 60 and older. In May of 2020, all residents age 60 or older received a postcard inviting them to participate in the online survey. The survey generated a total of 679 responses from residents in this age category (18 responses came from residents younger than 60). Two focus groups were conducted via video conferencing with staff of the CATH and board members from the Council on Aging. These conversations provided first-hand accounts of the ways in which the spaces are used. Finally, peer community interviews were conducted with directors of five senior centers that have recently undergone a building design process and could provide their experiences and suggestions for how to capitalize the use and benefit of newly constructed space.

Community Engaged/Serving

Part of the UMass Boston Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service Series. //

Included in

Gerontology Commons



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