Age-friendly communities

Widespread increased longevity, usually coinciding with lower fertility rates, means that the world’s population is ageing. By 2050, the majority of the world will likely live in high- or hyper-ageing societies (20-30%+ over 60). However, while we might be living longer, our age-related health is not predicted to improve as significantly.

Older people require supportive, inclusive environments to compensate for age-related changes, so adapting environments to support healthy ageing and continued participation in society is urgent work. Local authorities who embrace this and enable older populations and wider communities to benefit from increased longevity are also likely to see the valuable contributions older people make to society in areas such as civic participation, employment, caring, and sharing expertise.

The WHO’s Age-friendly Cities framework proposes eight interconnected domains to improve the well-being and participation of older people:

  • Community support and health services;
  • Outdoor spaces and buildings;
  • Transportation;
  • Housing;
  • Social participation;
  • Respect and social inclusion;
  • Civic participation and employment; and.
  • Communication and information.

It’s important to consider the overlap between these when planning for an age-friendly community. For example, lack of public transport can increase loneliness, however it is equally important that older people have places to go to utilise the transport.

In this week’s Global Local we provided insight into how other local authorities are successfully adapting to become age-friendly across a range of sectors – click here to view the edition. This bundle collates our resources on the subject.




Age friendly homes – designing homes that suit everyone’s needs across the lifecourse

This briefing examines the case of Ireland and how, as one of the first Age Friendly Countries (according to the World Health Organisation), it is approaching the delivery of age-appropriate homes for its increasingly older population. Read this briefing here (members only).

The 100-year life: the role of housing, planning and design

This paper from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (UK) and partners focuses on some of the biggest challenges that affect housing in later life and on the improvements which could make a significant difference to the health and wellbeing of an ageing population. Read this briefing here (members only).

Arus Mhuire Rightsizing Housing Project – Cork, Ireland

Cork City Council’s initiative facilitating downsizing from larger homes to free up social and private housing by providing age-friendly accommodation has won numerous awards. Read about it here (open access).

Planning and public realm


Age-friendly towns in Ireland

As a country affiliated with the World Health Organization’s ‘Age Friendly Programme’, Ireland has been working to develop age-friendly towns across the country. This briefing outlines the type of work being carried out by councils as part of the initiative and signposts some helpful resources for those looking to make their area more age-friendly. Read this briefing (free access).

Older generations to the rescue: the future of the high street

Over the past two decades, Britain’s high streets have been in decline as consumer behaviour has changed and economic pressures are causing retailers to close their shops. Can older generations be one of the key factors in shaping the reinvention of the high street, and what provisions might they need? Read this briefing (members only).

Age-Friendly Community approaches in the UK and Ireland

With their remit for wellbeing, public health, and community development, councils have a central role to play in promoting age friendly communities. The case studies here provide lessons as to how this might be done effectively.  Read this briefing here (free access).

Health, social care and wellbeing


Limerick City & County Council’s award-winning ‘Putting your house in order’ initiative

In late 2019, following discussions between Limerick Age Friendly Programme and The Irish Hospice Foundation, Limerick City & County Council decided to launch “Putting Your House in Order”; a series of workshops for attendees to explore end-of-life preferences for topics such as care, finance, and legal arrangements. Read this article here (open access).

What does a dementia-friendly city look like?

Brisbane City Council recently committed to creating a dementia-friendly city – but what does this mean? This briefing explores what it means to be ‘dementia-friendly’ and what local governments can do to support people living with dementia in their communities. Read this briefing here (members only).

Loneliness and social isolation in older people

Feelings of loneliness and social isolation are particularly acute for older people. How can councils combat loneliness? This briefing summarises recent research on this critical issue and considers the effects of loneliness on health and services. It also looks at the evidence for different interventions. Read this briefing here (members only).

Findings from the HaPAI Positive Ageing Survey

In 2018, the Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative (HaPAI) launched a set of Local Indicators for Ireland. In this briefing, we give background to the research and focus on some of the points and issues discussed in three useful areas for local government: participation, active ageing, and security. Read this briefing here (free – sign in to access).

Kaleidoscope Intergenerational Project – Fingal, Ireland

In this article, Fingal County Council fills us in on their award-winning ‘Kaleidoscope Intergenerational Project’, which brings together 4-year-olds and senior citizens for the benefit of both. Read it here (free access – sign in required).

Dementia friendly councillors, dementia friendly council: Lessons from South Tyneside

We visited South Tyneside, England, to sit in on a Dementia Friends training session for councillors and to learn about the measures the Council is taking to become a dementia-friendly local authority. Read this article here (open access).

Engagement, service delivery and technology


Local Government’s engagement in service delivery for older people

Recognising that local government’s engagement with older people extends far beyond aged care and accommodation, this briefing provides examples of a number of different ways in which local governments in Australia engage with older people. Read this briefing here (members only).

Engaging with older people post Covid-19: Adapting the work of the Age Friendly programme by listening to older people

Dr Emer Coveney, National Programme Manager for Age Friendly Ireland, tells us how listening to and understanding the specific problems older people have faced during the Covid-19 lockdown has shaped the work of Age Friendly Ireland. Read this article here (open access).

Digital infrastructure is key to meeting future housing and care needs

This briefing highlights the growing importance of digital technology in helping a wide range of people to remain independent in their own homes and to be served or supported in achieving independent living. Read this briefing here (members only).

Going digital to save lives – Falkirk, Scotland

Pauline Waddell, Team Manager, Mobile Emergency Care Service (MECS) explains how Falkirk Council safeguarded a lifesaving service and became the first local authority in Scotland to enable end-to-end digital telecare. Read this article here (open access).

How data can inform ageing policy and practice in local authorities: Lessons from Ireland

This briefing contains some good practice from Ireland that we think will be useful and interesting for local authorities in Scotland. It describes the role that the Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative has played in developing evidence to inform changes in practice and policy at national and local level. Read this briefing here (members only).

Evidence for Action: How data can inform policy and practice in local authorities

This briefing describes the role that the Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative, working in collaboration with the Age Friendly Cities and Counties programme, has played in developing evidence to inform changes in practice and policy at national and local level. Read this briefing (members only).