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Age-Friendly Newfoundland and Labrador Communities Program

Introduction

Inclusive communities are ageless. An age-friendly community is one where the physical and social environment enable people to live in a secure setting, enjoy health and continue to participate in society regardless of age. We all want equitable access to the things and places that are important to us. The Age-Friendly NL Communities program offers funding to incorporated municipalities and Indigenous governments and communities throughout the province to support planning for changing demographics. Our population is aging and this trend is happening all around the world. Creating inclusive communities is a shared responsibility with roles to be played by various levels of government, community planners, volunteers and the business sector.

Click this link for background information on the global age-friendly movement.

An age-friendly community assessment is an opportunity for all of us to be part of a conversation about the physical and social environments we live in, and want to live in. The assessment looks at eight areas in these environments:

  1. Guidelines and Application
  2. Outdoor spaces and buildings
  3. Transportation
  4. Housing
  5. Social participation
  6. Respect and social inclusion
  7. Civic participation and employment
  8. Communication and information
  9. Community support and health services

The following resources are also valuable for creating age-friendly communities:

Guidelines and Application

Outdoor spaces and buildings

Our physical surroundings, or built environment, includes both buildings and public spaces. These buildings and outdoor spaces can have major impacts on mobility, independence and quality of life. They can also affect peoples’ ability to age in place. We all want and need to get around our environment for a variety of reasons including to shop, work, dine with friends, volunteer, or visit family.

For your information…

In 1997, a working group of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental design researchers at North Carolina State University developed the principles of Universal Design. These seven principles guide the design of not just environments, but products and communications as well.

The seven principles of universal design:

  1. Equitable use
  2. Flexibility in use
  3. Simple and intuitive use
  4. Perceptible information
  5. Tolerance for error
  6. Low physical effort
  7. Size and space for approach and use

In Newfoundland and Labrador, Universal Design NL promotes accessibility and inclusion and can assist you in applying universal design principles to your built environment and beyond. Universal Design NL can be reached at https://universaldesignnl.ca/ External Icon.

To consider…

  • How accessible are the buildings in your community?
  • What barriers prevent all citizens from using these buildings and spaces?
  • How accessible are public spaces in your community?
  • Are traffic laws enforced in your community?
  • Are roads and sidewalks maintained?
  • What are some solutions to these barriers?

Links

Transportation

Accessible and affordable public transportation is a key factor influencing active aging. Regardless of how we live, play, and work, we all need access to transportation in order to participate in social, cultural, volunteer and recreational activities, as well as carrying out daily tasks such as working, shopping or going to appointments.

For your information…

The Disability Policy Office of Children, Seniors and Social Development offers the Accessible Vehicle program to help individuals retrofit their vehicles for accessibility, and an Accessible Taxi program to help taxi companies add accessible vehicles to their fleet.

To consider…

  • Is there ample priority parking available for public buildings/facilities and businesses in your community?
  • How easy is it for people to navigate the streets in your community?
  • If available, how affordable and accessible is public transportation in your community?
  • Is priority seating available on public transportation in your community?
  • Do you feel safe using existing public transportation in your community?
  • What are some solutions to these barriers?

Links

Housing

Accessible, affordable housing is key to enabling people to remain independent for as long as possible. Housing is essential for people’s well-being. The ability to live independently in one’s own home depends on a range of factors, including health, finances and the availability of support services. Many older persons feel that they could continue to live in their own homes under certain conditions.

For your information…

The Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation offers a Provincial Home Repair Program External Icon and a Home Modification Program External Icon.

The National Housing Strategy is a 10-year, $40-billion plan to create a new generation of housing in Canada, giving more Canadians a place to call home. To view the Strategy, visit the following link https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/nhs External Icon.

To consider…

  • Is there sufficient accessible and affordable housing available in areas that are safe and close to services and the rest of the community?
  • Is there sufficient and affordable housing for older persons with disabilities, with appropriate services?
  • Are there affordable options available for home modifications, if required, to enable older persons to remain at home in the community?
  • Are there affordable options for home maintenance in your community?
  • What are some solutions to these barriers?

Links

Social participation

Social participation and social support are strongly connected to good health and well-being throughout life. Participating in leisure, social, cultural and spiritual activities in the community, as well as with the family, allows people to continue to exercise their competence, to enjoy respect and esteem, and to maintain or establish supportive and caring relationships. It fosters social integration and is the key to staying informed.

For your information…

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has teamed up with ParticipACTION and Recreation Newfoundland and Labrador to develop a Physical Activity Toolkit for Older Adults. The Toolkit can be viewed at the following link: Physical Activity Toolkit For Older Adults External Icon.

To consider…

  • Are venues for community events and activities conveniently located, accessible, well-lit and easily reached by public transportation?
  • Are activities and attractions affordable and held at times convenient for seniors?
  • Are a wide variety of activities offered to appeal to a diverse population of seniors and does information about these activities include details about accessibility of facilities and transportation options?
  • How can we ensure there is consistent outreach to include people at risk of social isolation?

Links

Respect and social inclusion

Seniors report experiencing conflicting types of behaviour and attitudes towards them. On the one hand, many feel they are often respected, recognized and included, while on the other, they experience lack of consideration in the community, in services and in the family. This clash is explained in terms of a changing society and behavioural norms, lack of contact between generations, and widespread ignorance about aging and older people in general. It is clear from the consultation that the respect and social inclusion of older people depend on more than societal change: factors such as culture, gender, health status and economic status play a large role. The extent to which older people participate in the social, civic and economic life of their community is also closely linked to their experience of inclusion.

For your information…

The Office of the Seniors' Advocate is an independent office of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador. This Office has authority to identify, review and analyze systemic issues related to seniors and make recommendations respecting changes to improve seniors' services. For more information on the Office visit the following website: https://www.seniorsadvocatenl.ca/ External Icon.

To consider…

  • Are seniors specifically included in community activities geared towards “families”?
  • Are seniors included in community decisions related to them?
  • Does our community, government and businesses consult with older persons on how to serve them better?
  • Are schools providing opportunities to learn about aging and older people?
  • How can we involve seniors in school and community activities?
  • What are some solutions to these barriers?

Links

Civic participation and employment

Seniors do not stop contributing to their communities once they retire. Many continue to provide unpaid and voluntary work for their families and communities. An age-friendly community provides options for older people to continue to contribute to their communities, through paid employment or voluntary work if they so choose, and to be engaged in the political process.

For your information…

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador provides employment assistance to people living in Newfoundland and Labrador. For further information, please visit the following website: https://www.cssd.gov.nl.ca/poverty/guidebook/employment.html.

To consider…

  • Do seniors have a range of flexible and appropriately paid opportunities to work and flexible options to volunteer, with training, recognition, guidance and compensation for personal costs?
  • Do our decision-making bodies in public, private and voluntary sectors encourage and facilitate membership of seniors?
  • How can we ensure that workplaces are inclusive to meet the needs of seniors and do not discriminate on the basis of age?

Links

Communication and information

Staying connected with events and people and getting timely, practical information to manage life and meet personal needs is vital for active aging. Rapidly evolving information and communication technologies can be both useful tools and instruments of social exclusion. The most important concern should be to have relevant information that is readily accessible to seniors with varying capacities.

For your information

SeniorsNL is a provincial, not-for-profit organization that offers information and referral services to seniors, families, and caregivers throughout the province. Call 1-800-563-5599 or visit http://www.seniorsnl.ca/ External Icon for more information.

To consider…

  • Does your community have a basic, effective communication system that reaches community residents of all ages?
  • How does your community identify and get information to people at risk of social isolation?
  • How accessible and inclusive are your community’s communications systems?
  • What are some solutions to these barriers?

Links

Community support and health services

Health and support services are vital to maintaining health and independence in the community. Many people raise concerns about the availability of sufficient good quality, appropriate and accessible care. Older people everywhere voice a clear desire for basic health and income support. Health care costs tend to increase as we age.

For your information…

The Department of Health and Community Services offers many services of interest to seniors. Information can be obtained by visiting: https://www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/seniors/.

To consider…

  • Does the community offer an adequate range of health and community support services for promoting, maintaining and restoring health?
  • How does your community emergency planning takes into account the vulnerabilities and capacities of seniors?

Links

Additional Links of Potential Interest

Age-Friendly British Columbia Toolkit

Other Resources

Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM)

Canadian Websites

International Websites

 

Quick Links

 
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