Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



This report describes collaborative efforts undertaken by the Towns of Ashfield, Buckland, and Shelburne Consortium of Councils on Aging (hereafter, The Consortium) and the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging, within the McCormack Graduate School at the University of Massachusetts Boston (hereafter, UMass Boston). Beginning in Fall 2014, these organizations partnered to conduct a study to investigate the needs, interests, preferences, and opinions of older residents in communities in West Franklin County (hereafter, West County), and priorities of stakeholders who interact with older adults in various capacities.

Early in the project, researchers from UMass Boston communicated with stakeholders from The Consortium to discuss and better understand their concerns about current and future aging-related needs in communities in West County. We used information gathered at these meetings to develop a research plan to systematically answer the questions that arose. During this assessment, multiple research methods were used.

  • We began the process by examining public data from the U.S. Census Bureau to describe basic demographic characteristics, as well as economic traits, living situations, and disability status of older people living in the towns that participate in The Consortium. In addition, we examined selected census variables pertaining to six additional towns, which are potential consortium participants.
  • Six one-on-one key informant interviews were conducted with community leaders to identify ways in which services provided to seniors in West County could be improved.
  • We conducted two focus groups to obtain feedback from multiple stakeholders, including representatives from municipal departments, private organizations, and older residents themselves.
  • Finally, we conducted a comparison of COAs in eight towns that are similar to those that participate in The Consortium in order to assess how needs of older adults are met in other communities.

Collectively, the contents of this report are intended to inform planning by The Consortium, as well as other offices within the towns, and organizations that provide services to and who advocate for West County’s older adult residents.


Commissioned by The Towns of Ashfield, Buckland, & Shelburne Senior Center Consortium.

Community Engaged/Serving

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



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