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.

Become age friendly

  1. 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.

Ask:

  • Who are your key stakeholders?
  • Who are your cultural representatives?
  • Which organisations work with seniors?
  1. Assess how age friendly your community is now

Ask:

  • 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).
  1. Develop an action plan
  • Identify and prioritise the changes needed
  • Create a timeline
  • Consult with stakeholders

Ask:

  • Who will lead the work?
  • What sub-groups are needed?
  • What funding is needed?
  • Is the plan feasible?
  1. Implementation
  • Assign project leads and teams
  • Develop a business case
  • Identify decision-makers and stakeholders who need to be involved
  1. Evaluate
  • 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.

Also:

  • 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.