The Central Statistics Office has predicted that over the next 30 years, the number of people over the age of 65 in this country will double and the number over 80 will quadruple. This change in our demographics has huge implications for policy formation and service delivery.
Where we live, the physical, social and cultural environment, impacts hugely upon how we live. In an age friendly community, policies, programmes, services and infrastructure related to the physical and social environment are designed to enable older people to live in security, enjoy good health and continue to participate in society in a meaningful way. An age friendly community benefits people of all ages.
The Age Friendly Cities and Counties (AFCC) Programme recognises the valuable role that older people can and are playing in shaping their communities for the better and facilitates their voice to be heard in key decision making processes. It is part of a worldwide, World Health Organisation (WHO) inspired movement which embraces the challenges and opportunities that our ageing population presents by facilitating local authorities to take the lead on changing thinking about ageing, and how services are planned and delivered.
LAOIS AGE FRIENDLY COUNTY STRATEGY VISION
“Laois will be a county where older people are supported to live independently in safe and secure homes and communities suitable to their physical and social needs. A County, where older people are enabled to participate in economic, social, political and community life and continue to grow, develop and contribute to society”.
The Laois Age Friendly County Programme was launched in June 2014. The process is being led by The Laois Age Friendly County Alliance, chaired by the Chief Executive of Laois County Council, and include relevant organizations such as the HSE, The Garda Siochana, Leader Partnership and other stakeholders.
A county wide consultation process took place to ensure that the planned Age Friendly County Strategy for Laois is informed by the views and priorities of older people and their organisations.
Over the summer of 2014 six public consultations/active listening workshops were held. In May 2015 a Showcase for the Over 55s was held in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel which included a consultation workshop. This was attended by approximately 200 persons.
The consultation was framed around 8 main themes;
- Outdoor Spaces, Buildings and the Physical Environment – Older people are supported to be out and about by the social and built environments
- Transportation – Older people are able to get to where they want to go, when they want
- Housing – Older people stay living in their own homes and communities
- Respect and Social Inclusion – Older people are truly valued and respected
- Social Participation – Older people participate in social, economic and public life
- Communication and Information – Older people have the information they need to live full lives
- Community Support and Health Services – Older people lead healthy and active lives for longer
- Civic Participation and Employment – Older people continue to learn, develop and work
The workshops were organised to encourage participants to contribute to discussions on the eight themes above using the following 4 questions:
- What is good about each topic in Laois?
- What would improve each topic in Laois?
- What can you yourself do to improve each topic in Laois?
- What can others do to improve each topic in Laois?
LAOIS AIMS TO BE AN AGE FRIENDLY COUNTY
The Laois Age Friendly County Strategy 2016-2021 is an initiative designed to create a county where older people are valued and respected. It seeks to improve the quality of lives of people over the age of 55 in County Laois. This strategy is being implemented by the Laois County Age Friendly Alliance. This Alliance is an inter-agency group, led by Laois County Council. This is part of a national Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme spear headed by Age Friendly Ireland.
Cathaorleach Catherine Fitzgerald and retired TD and award winning author, Mary O’Rourke launched this initiative on Tuesday 14th June, 2016 in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois. The Cathaoirleach was joined at the launch by fellow speakers Chief Executive of Laois County Council and Chairperson of the Laois County Age Friendly Alliance, Mr. John Mulholland, Mr. Hugh O’Connor, CEO of Age Friendly Ireland and Orla O’Byrne, Chairperson of the Laois Older Person’s Forum.
Cathaoirleach Catherine Fitzgerald said “We are very lucky to have a very active older population in our county. Everyone hopes that as they grow older they will be supported to remain in their own home, be listened to and taken seriously, be able to work or volunteer, enjoy a good social life, and have access to good information and healthcare. These are hopes that we, as local agencies and organisations, want to work together to fulfil in Laois.
Chief Executive John Mulholland said” Local older people are key to the process; their collective voice is at the heart of the Age Friendly design. All the great societies of the world down through history have placed great value on the wisdom and life experience that older people brought to their communities. Through the Age Friendly Programme, we are striving to enhance the value and respect for the immense contribution that our older generation makes to our society, in our country and in our county.
The Laois Age Friendly County Programme was launched in July, 2014. The Laois County Age Friendly Alliance, an inter-agency planning Alliance, has been established to oversee the implementation of the initiative at county level. In Laois, it is particularly pleasing to see the collaborative nature of the commitments put forward by the range of stakeholders involved, An Garda Siochana, the HSE, Local Link, Laois Partnership, Laois Sports Partnership, Laois/Offaly Education & Training Board, Laois Older Person’s Forum and Laois County Council.
The Laois Age Friendly County Strategy 2016 – 2121 set out specific actions to be taken under the 8 (WHO) Themes that target areas designed to improve the quality of life of older people in County Laois. This strategy is a direct response to the views gathered from 283 older people over the age of 55 years in County Laois. The Laois Age Friendly County Strategy is available by contacting Geraldine Delaney in the Community & Enterprise Section, Laois County Council of by firstname.lastname@example.org