Evaluation of Senior Community Centers in Rural and Urban Pennsylvania

This research examined senior community centers in Pennsylvania to analyze challenges and opportunities that these centers face in providing services to a growing senior population. Specifically, the research: created an inventory of Pennsylvania’s rural and urban senior community center (SCC) locations, including the types of services provided and activities available; analyzed SCC attendance and program participation, accessibility/access issues, means of transportation to/from the center, and relevant demographic characteristics; identified innovative and successful models that SCCs are using to provide services to older adults in rural and urban Pennsylvania, including those focusing on transportation, nutrition, social activities, and other issues; and formulated policy considerations regarding the development, growth, and maintenance of SCCs in Pennsylvania.

To assess the strengths and weaknesses of current SCCs, the researchers surveyed SCCs and also conducted five focus groups. Additionally, SCC participants who completed the online survey were also asked to identify innovative programming within their centers, which helped to produce consistent results across centers regardless of their urban or rural location.