The Office for Seniors has created the Age friendly Aotearoa New Zealand toolkit. It has been developed to assist local bodies and community groups wanting to know more about how to make their city, town or community more age friendly.
What is the purpose of the toolkit?
The toolkit is a starting point for understanding more about age friendly approaches, and how to go about creating more age friendly cities, towns and communities. It includes links to other useful resources for those interested in progressing their age friendly ideas. The toolkit is a living document and will be reviewed and updated to incorporate feedback from those working to create age friendly communities.
What is an age friendly community?
An age friendly community is one with the desire and commitment to create policies, as well as physical and social environments, that support the wellbeing of older people. In an age friendly community, older people feel secure, enjoy good health and the respect of others, and continue to participate in society. An age friendly Aotearoa New Zealand will help ensure that older people are engaged, active, contributing members of the communities in which they live, work and socialise.
The age friendly model
The toolkit is based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Age friendly Cities and Communities model. It recognises that each community is unique and that the perspectives of older people are paramount to the development of local solutions.
The model is made up of eight key themes for groups to think about when they are undertaking age friendly work:
- Community Support and Health Services
- Diversity and Culture
- Communications and Information
- Social participation
- Civic participation and employment
- Outdoor spaces and buildings
When using the model, communities are encouraged to identify what needs to happen, and the steps required to implement the changes needed, to ensure the community is a good place for older people to live.
Timaru District: the age friendly model in action
Venture Timaru, the Economic Development Agency for Timaru District, is partnering with Timaru District Council and South Canterbury District Health Board to get Timaru’s age-friendly strategy underway. Abi Goodhew, Strategic Projects Coordinator at Venture Timaru, says the toolkit has provided a step-by-step guide to start the process.
“The toolkit has clearly been developed to be as practical and easy to follow as possible. I like the acknowledgment that every community is going to have a unique approach but that we can learn from each other along the way. We’re learning as we go what works best for Timaru but having a framework and support network has been vital so far.”
Abi says the model’s eight key themes has provided a structure for developing its community consultation phase, which will include a web platform, surveys, and workshops. “It’s a visual reminder for us (and our community) of everything that needs to be considered as we roll out the process.”
“I’ve found it particularly useful speaking directly to people from other communities that are in the midst of their own strategies, who were more than happy to share the ‘dos and don’ts’. I hope every region can jump on board in some way to adapting for our ageing population.”