In 2012, Marin County's Division of Aging and Adult Services conducted a needs assessment that provided a detailed account of the demographics, economic security, health, housing, status of caregiving, and quality of life for the county's older adult population. This report also revealed that people's own assessment of their health was less positive among Hispanic/Latino and African American older adults compared to their white counterparts. The survey findings were supplemented by conducting community forums among specific groups (i.e., AfricanAmerican, Latino/Hispanic, family caregivers, low-income persons, and residents in rural areas) to gain insight into service needs and service barriers.
These findings reinforce the results of a 2008 assessment in which nearly half of the Marin service agencies surveyed identified inadequacy in the cultural competence of their services. Ninety-one percent indicated that the lack of services for low-income older adults was a moderate to widespread problem. These challenges were also echoed in focus groups conducted with Spanish-speaking and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults.
While prior efforts have improved understanding of the needs of Marin's older adults, there remains a gap in knowledge of the availability and status of culturally competent services among Marin's service providers. This effort sought to address this gap and identify organizational strategies that would improve the ability of agencies to provide high quality services to a diverse population of older adults in Marin County.