Opening Doors to Aging Services: A LeadingAge Initiative

The Global Ageing Network members participated in a webinar on 11 May 2022 to learn about LeadingAge’s Opening Doors to Aging Services, a long-term, local-national initiative designed to raise awareness of the aging services sector. LeadingAge represents more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services providers and other mission-minded organizations in the United States.

Susan Donley, Senior Vice President of Communications and Marketing at LeadingAge, and Gwen Fitzgerald, Director of Public Messaging at LeadingAge, outlined how the initiative delivers original research on perceptions of the field, as well as communications strategies, guidance, and tools.

 Research found that while perceptions of the field are mixed, they are more favorable than unfavorable. But a solid one-third of U.S. adults don’t know how they view our field. This presents us the opportunity to inform them of availability of services and benefits of the services for older adults. A second foundational finding is that people with experience with aging services have strongly favorable views.

With more attention on our field, we believe now is an opportune moment to reintroduce our sector and showcase the dedicated people who deliver quality care during extraordinary–and ordinary–times. Watch the short video.  [ link: https://openingdoors.org/about/ ]

Opening Doors to Aging Services strategy incorporates eight components to communicate effectively with the public:

  • Encourage them to look inside aging services.
  • Demonstrate your commitment to delivering quality services.
  • Showcase caregiving professionals.
  • Emphasize independence and strength.
  • Focus on the needs of older adults and their families, not providers.
  • Talk about us (not them), using inclusive language.
  • Frame aging as a basic right for everyone.
  • Emphasize public support for greater government investment in aging services.

Katie Smith Sloan, Executive Director for LeadingAge and the Global Ageing Network stated, “there is no fast way for changing widely held public views. But with these new strategies and resources grounded in research, we have a significant opportunity to proactively define the aging services sector for millions of people around the world. I’m incredibly proud of this groundbreaking initiative and think you will agree that Opening Doors is truly a gift to the field. I look forward to working together in 2022 as we bring this important initiative to life.”

Opening Doors to Aging Services guidance and materials are applicable to all provider settings and for organizations of all sizes. Much of the initiative is publicly available to anyone in the sector, to broaden the work’s impact. Review the in-depth research and full communications strategy. https://openingdoors.org/

LeadingAge also created a new public service campaign developed with Opening Doors strategies: Keep Leading Life. https://keepleadinglife.org/ The campaign seeks to inform the public about the breadth of available aging services. The beautiful visuals puts older adults at the center of their story as they engage with life in authentic settings. Campaign materials and customizable assets specific to provider types are available free to LeadingAge members. https://openingdoors.org/resources/  Watch the Keep Leading Life videos. https://keepleadinglife.org/