Older People Best Practice

London Councils wants to promote best practice for boroughs to better support older people living in their communities.

We are part of the age-friendly boroughs strategy working group which aims to encourage councils to sign up to become WHO age-friendly communities. More details on UK Network of Age-friendly Communities can be found here. Please contact Sue Johnson, Senior Policy Officer – Equality, Inclusion and Diversity, GLA for more information [email protected]

Sutton and Hackney have kindly provided the case studies below which lay out their progress in becoming age-friendly boroughs. 

Other publications

The Toilet Manifesto for London

The Toilet Paper - The London Assembly Health Committee’s report,  

 

What benefits has becoming a member of the network brought for older people in your borough?

The biggest benefit of joining the network was having access to the UK network of local authorities and organisations seeking to make their area age-friendly. Immediately upon joining, there was an introduction of a vast and diverse  range of age friendly activity happening across the country and a regular forum where groups could share good practice, bounce ideas back and forth and share resources and tools of what has worked and not worked in their area, which could then be taken into consideration based on our own local initiatives.

 

Were there any challenges in going through the process and how did you overcome these?

We had incredible support from the centre for better ageing who supported our application and helped us in advise of when it would be best to put in an application. The process was simple and very quick. The application also provided an opportunity for us to assess our strengths and areas we would need to work more on to make Hackney age-friendly.

 

Do you have any advice for other boroughs who would like to become a member?

There are a number of considerations to think about before thinking to become a member:

  • Buy in from wider system for this work- being age-friendly is everybody's business and you need to get the right partners on board and willing and committed to change as a large part of age-friendly communities is about change and transformation. Also think about how you may secure political buy in from your political leadership in your area. Hackney for instance has a Mayoral Advisor for older people.
  • How you will involve older residents in your work and changes and really think about the support required for people to participate (digital, access, financial, resource required)
  • Managing expectations around influence and change- be transparent about what is within your reach to change and what areas of focus you might be able to influence.

 

Is there any other good practice or lessons learned on age-friendly practice that you would like to share?

We went through a process of developing and approving our ageing well strategy before we applied to be a member of the network. This worked well in assessing what we were going to do and involving older residents right from the get go.

We worked with a local organisation, Connect Hackney, to recruit five local older people to be peer researchers in our development of our ageing well strategy. Their role was to:

  • Conduct consultations with Hackney residents aged 55+ to provide valuable insight for the Council about what the challenges and opportunities are for ageing well in Hackney. 
  • Play an active role in the co-production of all consultation tools used to conduct the engagement e.g. interview questions, discussion guides.
  • Co-produce engagement strategies to reach older people living in Hackney, particularly those from communities who are often seldom heard.
  • Shape our understanding of what the findings reveal, helping to construct the Ageing Well strategy, e.g. participating in the stakeholder sessions.

 

This was the process for us developing our ageing well strategy:

  • Taking stock: review of existing local data about older people.
  • Stakeholder mapping: voluntary and community sector, public services, housing.
  • Familiarisation: exploring spaces and activities in which older people take part.
  • Discovery and testing: focus groups exploring what it means to grow old in Hackney.
  • Recruitment of Peer Facilitators: older people trained in community research.
  • Co-design: What do we want to find out? How and where do we ask people questions?
  • Field work: engaging in conversation with our older population.
  • Analysis: identifying themes from the fieldwork and previous research.
  • Solution-focused stakeholder engagement: How services can adapt, based on the findings.
  • Recommendations: drafting of strategy.
  • Context of COVID-19 was later taken in consideration through a round table before approving the strategy.

 

What benefits has becoming a member of the network brought for older people in your borough?

Being part of the network has allowed us to learn from good practice around the UK on initiatives that benefit older people. The network of members is diverse and spans across the UK so it’s really interesting to hear from the range of different places that have adopted Age Friendly practices. There are many excellent ideas and innovative practices that we would never have considered and even if outside of the scope of what we are able to achieve it helps keep us focused on how we can impact change in our local area. The network is a friendly and inviting space where you can ask any questions and people are happy to share documents and learnings that encourage our Age Friendly activities.

 

Sutton is undertaking 3 pilot projects in collaboration with Age UK Sutton and local older people to make the high street more welcoming, encourage the take up of volunteering opportunities and improve the feeling of safety at home. We are very much at the initial stage of this programme so it is too early to report on the benefits but the aims of these pilots are to connect older residents back in the community and to reduce social isolation as part of recovery from the pandemic.

  • Local businesses are being engaged to help older people feel more welcomed. This could lead to a local accreditation scheme being developed.
  • For safety at home, volunteers are being trained to work with older people to access any risks and issues in their home environment.
  • Age UK Sutton and the council will also be developing a volunteering campaign to challenge the stereotypes of the skills and interests of older people.

 

Were there any challenges in going through the process and how did you overcome these?

The main challenge in the initial stage was in defining the scope of the work. As the WHO domains are in 8 different cross-cuttings areas with many criteria within this it was hard to know where to start in the process. We initially overcame this by conducting a gap analysis using the Age Friendly places framework, and conducting a multi-criteria analysis to see where Sutton was in relation to this. This allowed us to identify which domains we were doing well in and which ones required further work.

In addition to this the impact of COVID stalled the project for quite some time and hence the Age Friendly programme was side-lined during lockdown periods. We had commissioned the engagement stage to Age UK Sutton but as soon as the pandemic hit and when infection rates were high there were urgent activities that took priority.

When the engagement work was concluding we chose to focus on three areas instead of the 8 domains, these were: feeling safe, feeling welcome and feeling connected. As we are a local authority these were areas that we felt we could have real influence on, in contrast to areas such as the NHS / health where our sphere of influence was limited. So far we believe adopting this three pronged approach is a strength and simplifies the Age Friendly programme in a way that works for delivering better quality pilots and having meaningful conversations with our residents and partners.

We have set the targets for the three pilots and are working towards these but so far are unable to define tangible impacts. At the end of this pilot year, in the summer there will be a report on impacts and areas for improvement.

 

Do you have any advice for other boroughs who would like to become a member?

Use the tools and resources on Age Friendly places, but adapt them for your own local area, you know your area better than anyone else so there will be patterns and problems that keep coming up. For us we knew we would be able to communicate the Age Friendly message using 3 pilots rather than 8 domains.

Similarly you will know your local partners and their strengths and weaknesses so consider these at each stage. Working with Age UK Sutton ensured the listening exercises were representative of older people in Sutton by collaborating with BAME and faith groups. They held virtual listening events with the involvement of more than 200 residents to provide in-depth feedback which allowed the identification of practical steps to make a difference for older people.

 

Finally, given the uncertainty at the current time, keep a flexible approach. You can plan for the future but be prepared to change this as issues emerge, have a target in mind for each intervention and use this to keep the focus and traction going forward. It’s also useful to have contingency plans

 

 

Public toilets

Age UK London have launched the London Loos campaign which calls for better toilet provision in the capital

The campaign encourages all local authorities in London to supply open data on public conveniences and community toilet schemes in their boroughs

In addition, it is important that boroughs use and promote public information resources including: