We want Norwich to become an age friendly city. We see this as an essential strategy to ensure we’re an inclusive city where residents can thrive, supported by opportunities and services that enhance and protect their health and wellbeing.
Why do we need to do this?
- We have a growing, ageing population. By 2040, around 40% of Norfolk’s population are predicted to be of dependent age rather than working age. The population aged 85+ is expected to double in size.
- People aged 50+ are already primary users of public services. Their representation in the design of the city, its services, and culture has never been so important, both today and in the future.
- Health is a key factor to quality of life. We know chances of hospital admission increases with age, with people aged 75+ significantly at risk. Residents in Norwich who live in areas of deprivation live 7.8 years (female) and 9.8 (male) fewer years than those in less deprived areas. In Norwich 23% of residents aged 65+ live in impoverished conditions.
- Care is more common.11% of the Norfolk population (94,694) provides unpaid care to a friend, neighbour or loved one, which is higher than the England average of 10.3%. Disability-free life expectancy has continued to fall, meaning people are more likely to live longer with a disability.
- Social dislocation. Norwich is one of the most loneliness cities in the country. 42% of residents live alone and in some wards this can be as high as 65%. The mental health hangover from the pandemic, transport, frailty and cost of living are all factors that restrict social connection, which undermines quality of life.
As a society, we have invested substantial resources in helping people to live longer. We now need to make sure those years uphold a quality of life we can be proud of.
What do we want to see?
Creating an age friendly city will require huge collaboration from all sectors of society, but we know that other cities have focused on eight key areas, in a scale and pace that’s right for them:
Community support and health services
Community support is strongly connected to good health and wellbeing throughout life, alongside accessible and affordable health care services. Both criteria are vital for maintaining health and independence as people age. More emphasis on community support is required to help and support people where they live, and health and social care funding will need to increase exponentially.
Outdoor spaces and buildings
The outside environment and public buildings have a major impact on the mobility, independence and quality of life of people in later life. Characteristics of the built environment that contribute to being age-friendly include: access and safety, green spaces, walkable streets, outdoor seating and accessible buildings (with lifts, stairs with railings etc).
Transportation, including accessible and affordable public transport, is a key issue for people in later life. People’s ability to move about in the community impacts on participation in and access to services. Every aspect of transport infrastructure, equipment and service is integral to creating an Age friendly Community, particularly as we know mobility is affected as we age and we have high issues with loneliness.
Safe, good-quality homes can maintain or improve physical and mental health, wellbeing and social connections. It is vital to have housing and support that allow us to age comfortably and safely within the community of people’s choosing.
Social participation is strongly connected to good health and wellbeing throughout life. It is important to enable people to feel connected and have a sense of belonging, and maintain or establish supportive and caring relationships. Enabling accessibility, particularly for those with mobility issues, is also key.
Respect and social inclusion
An Age friendly Community enables people of all backgrounds to actively participate and treats everyone with respect, regardless of age. Multigenerational activities are a great way for different generations to learn from one another.
Civic participation and employment
Age friendly Communities provide options for people in later life to continue to contribute to their communities. Those options can include paid employment or voluntary work and being engaged in the political process.
Communication and information
Staying connected with events and people and getting timely, practical information to meet personal needs is vital for active ageing. It is important to have relevant information that is accessible to those of us with varying capacities and resources.
You can find out more about the age friendly principles below, including other places where they are embracing this approach:
World Health Organisation (General) click here
World Health Organisation (Principles Checklist) click here
World Health Organisation (Primary Care Toolkit) click here
World Health Organisation (Transport Example) click here
Centre for Ageing Better click here
Greater Manchester Ageing Strategy click here
SAGE Journals (Age Friendly Nederland) click here
Norwich Institute for Healthy Ageing click here