Age should not be a barrier to living well according to a new guide by Age UK

Age should not be a barrier to living well according to a new guide by Age UK

Local and national policy-makers are failing to ensure that our communities meet the needs of all ages according to a new  guide, ‘Age Friendly Places’, from Age UK. The report sets out examples of how age need not be a barrier to living well and how older people can help create vibrant and resilient communities.

Nearly 1 in 4 people in the UK will be over 65 by 2040 and the fastest growing age group – people who are 85 and over – is expected to double in the next 23 years and rise over 3.4million.

Older people are likely to spend  a large percentage of time in their homes and local communities and need to be able to easily get out and about as consumers, volunteers, to work or give care. However many face barriers including ageism, poor transport links and digital exclusion

In a time of significant financial challenge for local governments and service providers the guide highlights a number of inexpensive and successful schemes already making communities ‘Age Friendly Places’.

Schemes highlighted include:

Leeds Neighbourhood Networks

Leeds City Council has developed 37 neighbourhood networks across the city. Each network operates from a community hub and provides a wide range of services that promote the health and well-being of older people and help reduce social isolation, offer volunteering opportunities, and act as a gateway for information, advice and advocacy. Many of the services are run by volunteers, carers and people themselves managing long term conditions.

Age Friendly Coventry

Coventry City Council, Age UK Coventry and Coventry University have joined together to create an ‘Age Friendly Coventry’.Working closely with ‘Coventry Older Voices’, they have identified three priority areas to improve later life: social participation, transport and communication. By co-creating action plans for each area and supporting the partnership, older people in Coventry have been able to help the Council improve health and wellbeing outcomes.

Age UK Camden Information & Advice

A good example of local authorities and local voluntary services working together to extend their Information & Advice services to  people unable to travel easily, Age UK Camden set up eight  ‘Outreach Advice’ locations across the borough. The hubs are helping people with long term conditions who find it hard to get out and signpost them to services of interest that help stop isolation.

Springboard in Cheshire

Springboard, a partnership between Age UK Cheshire and Cheshire Fire & Rescue Services, delivers around 30,000 smart home visits a year.  At each ‘smart visit’ , an assessment form is used that that outlines a range of support options including help with home safety, building or improving social networks or maximising income.

Cornwall’s ‘Living Well’ Integrated Care Programme

Cornwall’s Living Well programme is already hugely successful in reducing unplanned hospital admissions and supporting older people living with long term conditions. On the scheme an Age UK worker draws out the older person’s goals and creates a care plan that brings health, social care and the voluntary sector together to make them happen

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said:

“Our society is ageing and we need to make the most of the opportunities this brings. Councils can play a crucial leadership role by adopting a positive tone and creating communities that are genuinely age-friendly: if a place works well for older people it will probably do so for everyone else too.

“At a time when local funding is under huge pressure we must make best use of what’s available. Older people are, above all, assets, often the backbone of their communities, and when areas recognise this and take steps to ensure they are fully included everyone locally gains”