Is your community age-friendly?
01 November 2017.
The Office for Seniors recently used their Facebook page to ask the New Zealand Public how age-friendly they thought their community was.
The Age-friendly community model was developed by the World Health Organization in 2005. Age-friendly is about supporting people to age in place, and remain active and engaged in their communities as they get older.
The WHO model covers both the physical and social environments that make up a community – from roads and footpaths, to opportunities for social outings. It encourages each community to identify what needs to happen to make the community a good place for older people to live.
In 2017, a brief 5 question age-friendly survey was posted on the Office for Seniors Facebook page. It was promoted to those aged 18 and over throughout NZ from 28 August to 8 September. The survey reached 15,360 people, with 318 participants completing the survey.
The results of this survey have shown that our communities have some real strengths in terms of sense of community and inclusion of seniors. These are good assets when it comes to becoming more age-friendly. However, there are some areas where improvement can be made, in particular council engagement with older people and access to local amenities such as medical centres, shops, and parks.
1. How safe are pedestrian crossings and footpaths for elderly users?
The quality of outdoor spaces, such as park and footpaths, have a major impact on seniors' mobility, independence, and quality of life.
A quarter of all respondents thought their pedestrian crossings and footpaths were safe for seniors. While just over 36% of respondents said they were either unsafe for very unsafe.
2. How accessible is public transport to health centres, shops, and parks?
Access to accessible and affordable public transport is a key factor in influencing active ageing.
Respondents were divided over accessibility to these amenities, with approximately half indicating it was either poor or very poor and half saying it was either okay, good or very good.
3. How good is your community at including older people in activities?
Social participation in leisure, social, cultural, and spiritual activities in the community helps seniors to continue to enjoy respect and esteem, and maintain or establish supportive and caring relationships.
It was great to see that a third of people thought that their community was good or excellent at including older people and a further third thought they were 'OK.'
4. How strong is the sense of community in your neighbourhood?
Social inclusion is a very important component of older people feeling valued and being able to participate in their communities.
The survey results showed 39% of respondents felt there was a 'good' or 'excellent' sense of community in their neighbourhood. This is a great starting point for dealing with issues central to social isolation
5. How would you rate your councils engagement with older people?
The partnership and engagement between seniors and councils is critical to the success of an age-friendly approach. Seniors continue to contribute to their communities as they age, so part of an age-friendly community is building on this resource.
Almost half of all respondents said engagement with local council was either 'poor' or 'very poor.' Only 12.6% responded to saying their local council engagement with older people is 'good' or 'excellent.'