Developing age-friendly rural communities: the contribution of local participatory planning processes
Research Team: Dr Louise Lafortune, Dr Stefanie Buckner, Caroline Lee, Dr Emily Oliver, Dr Amy Barnes, Dr Hannah Jordan, Dr Joanna Reynolds, Dr Dan Pope, Dr Calum Mattocks, Dr Joe Broadbent, Ms Helen Oliver, Mr Trevor Fernandes, Mr Martyn Regan, Mr Paul Dixon & Mark Nokkert
Who's involved: University of Cambridge, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Sheffield, Fuse & LiLaC
January 2018 - December 2018
It is recognised that encouraging communities to create age-friendly physical and social environments will better support older citizens in making choices that enhance their health and well-being, and allow them to participate fully in their communities. Yet, there is still some way to go to ensure effective systems integration between planning, community development, and public health.
This research builds on the Age-Friendly Cities (AFC) project, previously funded by SPHR. This 12-month feasibility study will focus on rural communities in England and the challenges and opportunities they present for ageing populations.
It will explore the potential of using a participatory planning process that involves communities taking an active role in shaping the development of their area known as Neighbourhood Planning (NP), to deliver age-friendly action plans in rural contexts and improve health-related outcomes for older adults.
A range of NP approaches will be developed by undertaking a systematic survey of NP areas to assess coverage in terms of geography, demography, deprivation, and describe what health related experiences or outcomes they are aiming to achieve. This will involve online documentary searches, updating literature reviews, and a survey of active NP areas to map those communities that have adopted a focus on issues compatible with age-friendliness in relation to area-level deprivation affecting older people.
In parallel, 2-3 detailed case studies of NP areas will be undertaken. The research will describe the extent to which NP in each area is guided by age-friendly principles and examine the processes, structures and outcomes of NP with regards to enhancing age-friendliness. The case studies will build on a logic model and evaluation tool for Age-Friendly Cities, developed in the first project.
The work will then be extended to a focus on age-friendly rural settings more widely. This research will lay the foundation for a larger programme of work to develop a resource that will help structure strategies and operational plans for rural communities aspiring to become age-friendly. The resource will also suggest how to monitor progress made towards age-friendliness.
This research followed on from a previous SPHR project where a new method was developed to assess how ‘age-friendly’ cities and communities were. This project tested and refined the new assessment method, known as an evaluation tool.