Local Government Magazine

Making your community age-friendly

Supplied by the Office for Seniors.

Age-friendly Cities and Communities is a global movement developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) covering more than 300 million people living in 1145 cities and communities. Led by the Office for Seniors, our country became an affiliate member of the WHO Global Network in 2018.

Since then, the Age Friendly Programme has been developed that aims to help communities prepare for the significant global demographic change that is occurring. By 2034, over 20 percent of our population is projected to be over 65 and, in some regions, this figure will be closer to 30 percent.  

Office for Seniors, Director Diane Turner, is keen to build on the relationship with councils.

“We actively support councils and communities to become more age friendly by providing a range of resources – including a small grants programme – and managing and leading a network of councils and other organisations to share knowledge and best practice. 

“As a first step, councils are invited to join the Aotearoa New Zealand Age-Friendly Programme network. They can nominate up to two members of staff to be part of the Network. Often these are community development staff.

“We arrange quarterly on-line meetings with council representatives to share ideas. We also have expert guest speakers, many from overseas, who present on a range of global issues affecting older people. These have been extremely valuable to many of the councils involved, making them aware that the issues they face are not unique and that somewhere in the world other organisations are also thinking about them.  

“We have 27 councils that are part of the Network, but new members are always very welcome.”

Current members in the North Island are Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Taupo, New Plymouth, Whanganui, Napier, Central Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, Horowhenua, Kapiti Coast, Masterton, Carterton, South Wairarapa and Wellington.

In the South Island: Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, Kaikoura, Hurunui, Waimakariri, Christchurch, Westland, Timaru, Mackenzie, Waitaki and Gore.

Age-friendly toolkit

As well as managing the network, the Office for Seniors also offers councils and communities the Age-friendly Toolkit. 

“This is based on the WHO’s Age-friendly Cities and Communities framework and draws on responses from older people around the world about the features of cities, towns and communities that help to make a place age-friendly, says Diane.

“It breaks these features down into eight elements of community life: Civic participation and employment, community and healthcare, communications and information, housing, outdoor spaces and buildings, respect and social inclusion, social participation and transportation. 

“The evidence is clear that an environment that has been designed to meet the needs of older people will be good for the whole community. To help improve outcomes for older people through the design of public places, land use, spatial planning and design we have also developed the Age friendly Urban Places Guide.

This is a technical resource for local and central government that can also be used to help people to advocate for changes in their communities and covers streets and spaces, accessibility and movement, housing and community connections.

Age-friendly grants

The Office for Seniors also runs a small grants scheme of between $5000 and $15,000 for the development of strategies or new projects that support  age-friendly plans. 

Projects include research on the needs of regions to help develop age-friendly initiatives. In the last round, the Alpine Community Trust received funding to complete a survey and focus groups with older people about their living conditions, health and social needs in the Upper Clutha region. 

Other projects aim to encourage intergenerational engagement such as a project that connected Seniornet and Feilding High School students to collaborate on writing their memoirs and Atamu EFKS Porirua, which ran a series of traditional weaving sessions which provided an opportunity for older people to share knowledge about this artform and encourage intergenerational engagement.  

The next grant round will open next month in August and application details will be posted on our website.
More information and contact details for all these initiatives go to www.officeforseniors.govt.nz


Image: pch.vector / Freepik

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