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Age-Friendly Communities in Practice: Good Practice Examples

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Age-Friendly Communities in Practice: Good Practice Examples

Age-friendly communities help to ensure we feel valued, heard, included and respected, and can do the things that matter as we get older. They are places in which older people, communities, policies, services, settings and structures work together in partnership to support and enable us all to age well.

We’ve brought together some examples of good practice below, so please take a look.

If you’re aware of any good practice that’s making a positive difference, please let us know.

A woman with a VR headset on next to a man smiling

Inside – Outside: 360-degree Virtual Reality Videos

Caerphilly Over 50 Inside – Outside Project developed bespoke 360-degree virtual reality videos for the benefit of older people living in local council care homes.

There are 25 videos in total, many of which were requested by the care homes, including Cwmcarn Forest and Drive, Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway, Caerphilly Male Voice Choir in rehearsals, Senghenydd National Mining Memorial and Roath Park in Cardiff, which is a particular favourite.

Funding for filming/editing and the VR headsets has been provided by the National Lottery Community Fund. Most of the filming and editing was done by their technical consultant, but a volunteer learned how to do this process as well, enabling more films to be produced within the available budget.

The project was conceived before the start of the Age-Friendly initiative but just after the COVID pandemic started. This meant that although they were able to continue filming, it was not possible to make contact with care homes until the beginning of this year. They contacted and worked with senior officers in Caerphilly Council, to arrange demonstrations in local care homes, working in partnership with an officer who took responsibility for introducing the videos across the care homes owned by the Council, which often provide care to older people living with dementia.

Throughout the summer, council officers have been engaging with care homes, which shared they would appreciate some help include the VR videos as part of the activities in the home. As a result, the council is looking for volunteers who can provide this kind of support.

An older person on a digital bike surrounded by three helpers

Digital bikes help Clwyd Alyn residents take a trip down memory lane, Anglesey

Older people living at Hafan Cefni Extra Care scheme in Anglesey were gifted a digital bike, which was built by sixth form students at Ysgol David Hughes, Menai Bridge, in partnership with Digital Communities Wales.

The A Level Pupils, guided by officers from the ‘Llwybrau Cof / Memory Lane’ project at Digital Communities Wales, were tasked with assembling the exercise bike and creating a digital connection to the Google Street View software, allowing the rider to experience a leisurely bike ride at a location of their choice.

The project, which was a partnership between Ysgol David Hughes, Digital Communities Wales, Anglesey County Council and North Wales Recycle IT, has provided older people with an alternative way to exercise whilst also taking a trip down memory lane, something some haven’t done in years.

A train pulling in to Cardiff Central train station

Age Connects North Wales Central in conjunction with Denbighshire County Council

People attending several of the fora had raised concerns about using train services, some of the concerns were regarding timetabling, booking / printing of tickets and accessibility issues at stations, e.g. stairs, lifts, toilets.

Transport for Wales were invited to attend the fora and provide information. As a result of these presentations some grant money is being used to fund two ‘Confidence to Travel’ trips. The money is used to provide coach pickups for the two groups with Transport for Wales providing the cost of the train travel through the Conwy Valley. As part of the trip the members will be shown how TFW can assist with people to travel by train and practical help and tips as to how they can plan their future journeys.

This has been well received by the groups involved as those who have given up their cars for either age or health related reasons welcome the opportunity of being able to access the train system.

The trips will be reviewed and feedback will be provided to TFW regarding the information provided. Also the take up of any further travel taken by the individuals within the group.

Four older people sitting around a table laughing and eating

Shared Tables – Older people eating out together – Leeds

Shared Tables, a project developed in the Cross Gates area of Leeds, invites older people living alone to enjoy a meal together at a local restaurant.

Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours’ Scheme CIO (CDGNS), a community organisation working with older people, exists to reduce loneliness, support independence and promote health and wellbeing in later life.

CDGNS started developing the Shared Tables project in October 2015, after local older people identified a lack of social opportunities in the evenings and at weekends as a main barrier to social inclusion. While there are often activities available during the working week, evenings and weekends can be particularly lonely.

Shared Tables offers an alternative to more traditional social events such as coffee mornings, providing opportunities to socialise at weekends and in the evenings. The current group of 11 table hosts meets quarterly to choose venues and set dates and times.

Discussions are underway to pilot the model in another two areas of Leeds. The element of choice and control by the participants themselves means that Shared Tables can be adapted to meet local needs. For example, CDGNS tends to organise evening Shared Tables in summer, as female members have expressed concerns about getting home safely in the dark.

Age-friendly Durham's logo of a three wavy lines inside a circle

Regional Municipality of Durham, Canada – Beauty of Experience Campaign

In consultation with older adults during the Age-Friendly Durham planning process, it was revealed that ageism negatively impacted feelings of social inclusion and safety in the community. Inspired by this feedback, the Region of Durham and the Durham Council on Ageing launched the Beauty of Experience Campaign to combat widely accepted myths and negative stereotypes of older adults.

The campaign was funded by the province of Ontario and featured stories of 24 older adults across 8 area municipalities endorsing continuous learning, creativity, volunteerism and employment participation.

These stories were featured in a poster series and educational video, and disseminated throughout local newspaper, radio, as well as through Durham Region Transit advertising, and Durham Region’s Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook platforms. Social media posts were informational and debunked ageing myths to educate the community about the ageing experience.

Campaign messaging illustrated positive attributes of ageing, including wisdom, experience, and skills. It reached community members of all ages, fostering communal understanding of the diverse realities of ageing, and promoted social inclusion and increased safety for older adults in Durham. It was a positive experience for participants and provided a sense of social connectedness that was missing through the global pandemic.

A bench in a park

Chatty Benches, Gothenburg, Sweden

In Gothenburg, around twenty chatty benches have been placed to serve as a place for conversation, to enable more spontaneous meetings between people, counteract social isolation and alleviate loneliness.

The most effective locations for the distinctive dark oak and yellow benches, with armrests for additional support, were determined by older people, and can now be found throughout the city.

The chatty benches were installed as part of an action plan for an Age-Friendly Gothenburg, which is a broad collaboration between administrations, companies and older people.

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