Throughout the world we are seeing ageing populations and an increase in the number of people living in cities. This means that how city life is organised, including its health and other services, needs to pay special attention to older people, so that they can continue to live as healthily as possible.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), along with cities around the world, have developed the ‘age-friendly city’ (AFC) concept to focus attention on how to make cities more responsive to older people. The aim of this project was to investigate how well the newly-launched AFC initiative in Liverpool was doing, and to share this experience with other UK cities.
Information was collected from a wide range of people in the city who are responsible for service provision and planning. Interviews were also carried out with older people, to find out what they felt is needed. Information was compiled from health statistics, including in respect of falls among older people which appear to be more common in Liverpool than in many comparable cities.
When the Mayor of Liverpool signed up to the WHO AFC initiative in 2012, there was a high level of commitment across the city, and this continues. However, the research team found that this has not yet been translated into planning and putting ideas into practice needs to be carried out in a well-coordinated way. On the other hand, Liverpool has many examples of age-friendly planning and provision and a strong appreciation of the importance of this for achieving value for money. Although there are ways in which the perspectives of older people are sought, there is room for improvement in ensuring that their voices make a difference to decision-making. More effort is needed to prevent falls and in the management of older people who have had a fall. However, lack of good information about why there are so many falls in Liverpool makes it difficult to identify more specifically what needs to be done.
Liverpool is committed to becoming more age-friendly, and now needs to bring together the many separate programmes that do support older people in a more co-ordinated way. High-priority issues, including falls, need special attention and further enquiry. This project has developed a useful approach for assessing how well a city is progressing in its age-friendly ‘journey’, and plans are underway to share this with other cities committed to the wellbeing of older people.
SPHR researchers have also carried out a further project to test and refine the new assessment method for age friendly cities.
TagsAge Friendly CitiesAgeing