Making a community age-friendly
The concept of Age-friendly communities was originally developed by the World Health Organization.
They identified eight domains that contribute to communities becoming more age-friendly.
An age-friendly community:
- respects the rights of older people
- celebrates older people – including their capacities, resources, life-styles and preferences
- addresses inequality in the community, for example disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion/beliefs, rural/urban
- values older people and encourages them to participate in the community life
- connects people across all ages.
Translating this into process, the age-friendly approach is:
- co-designed where partners and stakeholders, including older people, work across sectors
- needs people throughout the community to be involved at all stages, recognising that older people are the experts in their own lives
- builds on what has already been achieved or is underway
- inclusive of everyone – regardless of age, culture and ability – recognising older people are the experts in their own lives
- a bottom-up participatory approach combined with top-down political commitment and resources.
- Kick start
- Decide the location for change (neighborhood, town or region)
- Set up a steering group
- Arrange funding and how this will be managed (e.g. an existing Trust)
- Get the support of your local council.
- Who are your key stakeholders?
- Who are your cultural representatives?
- Which organisations work with seniors?
- Assess how age friendly your community is now
- What works well in the community?
- Where are the gaps and opportunities?
- Consider the different ways to get feedback (a survey, interviews, focus groups or a forum? It could be more than one).
- Develop an action plan
- Identify and prioritise the changes needed
- Create a timeline
- Consult with stakeholders
- Who will lead the work?
- What sub-groups are needed?
- What funding is needed?
- Is the plan feasible?
- Assign project leads and teams
- Develop a business case
- Identify decision-makers and stakeholders who need to be involved
- Identify what went well and what could be improved.
To find out what other communities around the world have done go to the WHO Global Database of Age-friendly Cities and Communities
What to remember
The process should be a partnership between older people, services, NGOs, and the local council.
- it is important to get people involved throughout the community
- start by looking at what your community has already begun, or achieved, and build on that
- it’s important to get buy-in and support from community leaders, not just officials.