Thursday, October 13, 2016
12:00AM – 2:00PM
Location:  Carlisle Town Hall

The meeting was called to order at 12:10AM by Christine Schonhart, Director, Gleason Public Library and a Key Project Collaborator.  Food/drink was provided.

Present were (10 people):  Linda Fantasia, BOH Health Agent; David Klein, COA Director; Christine Schonhart, Director, Gleason Public Library (meeting chair); Donna Margolies, BOH Vice Chairman; Bill Risso, Board of Selectman; Maxine Crowther, Board of Council on Aging (COA); Elizabeth Barnett, Housing Coordinator; Caitlin Coyle, PhD, Center for Social & Demographic Research on Aging Gerontology Institute, U. of Mass., Boston; Jason Chandonnet, Web Design/IT Assistance; and Judy Hodges, BOH Administrative Assistant, who took meeting notes.

  1. Welcome and Introductions
  2. Topics Discussed: Overview of Data Collection Methods; Project Purpose; Survey Development; Survey Topics; Draft Instrument; and Community Outreach — all introduced by Caitlin Coyle, PhD

Overview of Data Collection Methods (slide)

  1. Planned data collection methods/timeline
  2. Discussion re: goals of needs assessment
  3. Survey development process
  4. Review of sample survey questions

Data Collection Methods (slide)

  1. Demographic profile – at community level – use of existing surveys
  2. Web-based community survey – pilot-testing with members of community
  3. Focus groups – three (3) to include members of community

Caitlin Coyle spoke of the specific need to gain representation/insights from ‘vulnerable’ individuals/groups within community and asked if the data collection methods she had presented resonate with the project team … why? or, why not?

Coyle also informed the research center by whom she is employed has worked or is working with fifteen (15) communities about the aging process.

Project Timelines:  About 18 months in duration, start-to-finish.  The primary survey instrument is expected to be released in Spring 2017, and three (3) focus groups are scheduled for Summer 2017.

Project Purpose (slide)

  1. To identify health needs in Carlisle
  2. To identify assets and barriers to health and well-being in Carlisle

Coyle added the ‘needs’ could include unmet needs in terms of (1) mental or (2) behavioral health.

Linda Fantasia mentioned the specific focus of the project should be on ‘quality of life.’

Coyle asked if the survey should address issues relating to health and income disparity in Carlisle.

Elizabeth Barnett mentioned that between 1 in 8 among Carlisle’s residents may qualify for affordable housing.   Barnett also commented on social relationships/networks as changing for some, allowing fewer opportunities for “secondary relationships.”  She added that Carlisle was once a small, rural town, but its social environment is now changing.  Barnett also highlighted that the town has transportation issues as these were brought to her attention.

David Klein reported there is a need to update the demographic information pertaining to town residents, and added the latest information he had seen on the percentage of elderly (those over 60) in Carlisle was 20%, as provided by the Tufts Health Plan Foundation.

Barnett said Carlisle is considered a wealthy town, but many residents are unaware there are residents living in economic crisis as part of the ‘new’ Carlisle.

Coyle went on to discuss survey development:

Survey Development (slide, including commentary)

  • Length of survey – correlates with completion rate
  • Skip patterns — useful to address survey length issues
  • Language – should be clear, concise and direct, and address whether the reference point should be the individual or the community.
  • Utility – beyond being interesting, how can information from the question posed be used to meet the goals of the initiative?

Barnett and Klein both inquired if a survey providing language translation for the growing population of residents who are Chinese or French could/should be created.

Barnett inquired if residents with visual disabilities would be able to access the survey instrument.  Christine Schonhart stated that the survey text could be enlarged and also provide an option for voice accompaniment.

Coyle stressed that community outreach will be “extremely important” to attain the greatest number of respondents to the survey.  Fantasia mentioned the intention to create a system of ‘ambassadors’ in town to aid in gaining access to groups of people that are readily known but, importantly, also those that are as yet unknown.

Survey Topics (slide)

  • Quality of life
  • Disability
  • Care-giving
  • Safety
  • Self-related physical health/mental health
  • Social cohesion
  • Stress/coping/having someone to talk to
  • $ Money – health **
  • Preventative health behavior
  • Risky health behaviors
  • Barriers to health care access
  • Issues that interfere with health of community
  • Independence – ability to drive – access to transportation

** For residents who have lived in Carlisle for some time – is life better now or was it better before?  Do people care about you?  Do you have representation, that is, a voice in Carlisle?

Fantasia suggested it would be good to determine what residents’ expectations are of local government infrastructure.  Barnett mentioned the lack of social networks for some in Carlisle, and said the incidence of suicides/drug overdoses is directly related to a lack of “a place to go” for people to turn for help.

Age Requirement for Filling Out Survey

Eighteen (18) years or older, according to law (Coyle).

Current Health Services Provided by Town

Coyle inquired what health services are available in the town.

Barnett said the Housing Authority is collecting information via a survey from Town employers about the number of employees they have who may be eligible for affordable housing.

Coyle inquired if there were any health services available in Carlisle.  Fantasia responded that the only service provided is the flu clinic that is conducted by the Board of Health during the month of October.  Barnett said that there is a low-income threshold for health services available from Minuteman Home Care.  Klein reported that the COA routinely conducts blood pressure clinics; nutrition luncheons and podiatry clinics.  He added that Carlisle does not have a community health nurse, but does have a part-time social worker who provides aid eight (8) hours weekly to any resident, not just the elderly.  Fantasia asked at what level of detail will the survey allow us to get to issues such as suicide or hoarding?  And, she asked if the respondent would be able to provide their qualitative comments?  Barnett said it would be helpful to get a snapshot from the survey results of “what the town is really like.”  And she asked, “How can we see what is working?” in terms of (1) safety – specifically domestic situations; (2) suicide; (3) hoarding; and (4) financial security.  As for the latter, Barnett said it would helpful to know how many people are struggling to pay their bills.  She said it would also be helpful to know the age of the individual in terms of when they came to Carlisle, as this information might be directly related to their values.

Draft Survey Instrument

Coyle stated that she will draft a survey instrument, which will likely have to go through several iterations as steering committee members provide their comments.  Her research team will then ‘pilot’ the survey.  She mentioned that the survey could be promoted in The Carlisle Mosquito, existing communication outlets in town, a flyer as well as a postcard or other materials to provide residents and others a link to the questionnaire.

Survey Design:  The survey will be comprised of 25-30 questions, both qualitative and quantitative, as well as open-ended; see  It will primarily be a web-based survey.  Fantasia inquired asked if the individuals who responded to the survey could inform if they liked the survey itself.  Barnett added that, if so, the survey might make people who are lonely and/or have money issues believe that the town cares about them.

Community Outreach

  • Carlisle Mosquito, town paper
  • Existing outlets of communication
  • Promotional flyer
  • Postcard or any additional means to inform people of the link

Status of Caring4Carlisle Web Site

Jason Chandonnet informed that the web site,, could now be used to release news about the project.  Fantasia said there was nothing currently available on the site to describe the grant project, but that she could create a page for the site that informs the public of what the project is about and who can be contacted to learn more about it.

Meeting concluded at 1:50PM

Next Meeting: 

Thursday, November 3, 2016 – 7:00PM to 8:00PM, Heald Room, Carlisle Town Hall.

Meeting Chair:  Linda Fantasia

Topics to be discussed:

  • Speaker: Caitlin Coyle, Center for Social & Demographic Research in Aging, Gerontology Institute, University of Massachusetts, Boston, will present a Demographic Profile of Carlisle.
  • Group discussion of additional demographic-type characteristics for survey inclusion
  • Update on the website: org.


Meeting Recorder:  Judy Hodges, BOH Administrative Assistant


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