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Four steps to becoming an Age-friendly Community

Joining the World Health Organisation’s Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities, means committing to developing your place as age-friendly through a four-step programme cycle.

You can start the process wherever is best for your place. Here, we describe it in a linear way.

For examples of the key milestones on the age-friendly journey from the UK and internationally, such as commitment letters from leaders, baseline assessments, action plans and evaluations, you can search Global Network database at the Age-friendly World website.

Step 1: Engage and understand

The first step on the journey to becoming an Age-friendly Community, is to involve stakeholders and older people in assessing the age-friendliness of your place. This is key to understanding local needs and preferences, priorities, and opportunities for healthy, active ageing. During this stage, you will also form a steering group or committee to oversee the developments.

Some of the ways to involve a diverse range of people include public meetings and events, having people in later life act as peer researchers, conducting surveys and involving local services, such as libraries and community sector organisations, in ways to help residents give their views.

Resources

AARP, a United States-based interest group created "to empower people to choose how they live as they age", produced the following:

Community Survey Questionnaire
AARP Research and AARP Livable Communities have worked together to develop a questionnaire that can be adapted by communities to help assess available resources and what residents view as important for successfully ageing in place.

Pride of Place: how councillors can improve neighbourhoods for older people
An Age UK guide for local councillors, so they can enable local people to be involved.

Step 2: Plan

Planning strategically is where all stakeholders develop a shared vision, to determine the priorities for action and to plan and resource how your community will achieve its age-friendly outcomes.

Resources

Joint Decision-Making
Published by What Works Wellbeing looks at the impact of meaningful community involvement on wellbeing from their Community Wellbeing Evidence Programme.

Age-friendly in Practice

Manchester: A Great Place to Grow Older
This strategy was produced by Valuing Older People (now known as Age-Friendly Manchester), an initiative involving many services and organisations to improve life for older people in Manchester.

Developing a common vision
This film from Age-friendly Salford introduces the vision for their community.

Step 3: Act and implement

Implementing an age-friendly action plan is at the heart of creating an age-friendly community. Even small steps can go a long way.

Resources

Creating age-friendly environments in Europe. A tool for local policy-makers and planners
Policies to create more age-friendly environments, in which a growing number of cities and communities, local authorities and regional governments participate, have become a forceful movement in Europe and globally.

Creating an age-friendly New York City – one neighourhood at a time
A toolkit for establishing an ageing improvement district in your community. Published in 2012 by The New York Academy of Medicine and Age-friendly NYC.

Age-Friendly Communities in Canada: Community Implementation Guide
Designed for use by anyone who wants to put their ideas and vision for a more age-friendly community into action – focusing on different sectors in the community, such as health and social services, parks and recreation, policing services and businesses so as to incorporate age-friendly approaches into design, policy and services.

Age-friendly in Practice

Age-friendly Belfast plan 2018-2021
Belfast has been working towards age friendly since 2013 and is in its second WHO programme cycle, therefore the city has been able to reflect and build on progress already made. This resource is Belfast’s Age-friendly action.

Step 4: Evaluate

Monitoring and evaluating progress of your age-friendly journey will help to identify successes and challenges and serve as the basis for defining priorities for future improvements. Collecting evidence on both the progress of implementing the age-friendly approach as well as its impact on local people’s lives is crucial to the success and sustainability of a communities’ efforts to become increasingly age-friendly.

Resources

Research and evaluation framework for age-friendly cities
A practical resource for cities looking to develop age-inclusive programmes and initiatives – with key facts, evidence reviews and summaries for each of the World Health Organisation (WHO) age-friendly domains

Why bother involving people in evaluation?
A practical tool from Evaluation Support Scotland to help organisations plan how to involve the people they work with in evaluation. 

Measuring the age-friendliness of cities: a guide to using indicators
A technical guide to selecting and using core indicators for establishing baselines, setting goals/targets, monitoring and evaluating age-friendly initiatives.

Evaluating your age-friendly community program: a step-by-step guide
This guide from AARP was developed to help communities document and evaluate their progress in becoming more age-friendly.

The Livability Index
This website is a tool to score neighbourhoods and communities across the United States for the services and amenities that most impact the lives of older people. 

Age-friendly communities evaluation guide: using indicators to measure progress
Developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada to promote the use of the Age-Friendly Communities model.

Age-friendly Communities

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