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Ennis Age Friendly Town


Ennis Age Friendly Town

Summary

The Ennis Age Friendly town strategy was developed in consultation with stakeholders both statutory and voluntary including the Older Persons Council, Clare County Council, An Garda Siochana and the HSE. A number of walkability audits were conducted with the Older Persons Council/Wheelchair users and persons with limited abilities to assess the existing streetscape and access to services from a safety and accessibility perspective. Arising from these audits a strategy was devised with objectives and the implementation plan included a series of actions, with a lead agency assigned. The objectives were:

1. Make Ennis a great place in which to grow old – measured by the outcomes in the ‘Age Friendly Town’ survey and measured through the implementation of the actions outlined in the Action Plan.
2. Improve overall accessibility of the town’s public realm – measured by the outcomes in the ‘Walkability Study’ of Ennis and measured through the implementation of the recommendations in the ‘Walkability Study’ report.
3. Engage older adults in shaping and enhancing their communities for the benefit of everyone.
Measures introduced to date include enhanced shared surface public realm, drop kerbs, additional pedestrian crossings, age-friendly seating and parking, accessibility enhancements to recreational areas, age-friendly business accreditation and physical activity programmes for older persons.
Age-friendly partner agencies developed practical solutions, enabling everyone to experience a better quality of life. A safe, friendly town with good accessibility and facilities is a good place for persons of all ages.

All aims and objectives have been achieved, with further phased developments of the town planned. The Action Plan is a working document that will be reviewed.

Website: https://www.clarecoco.ie/services/community/age-friendly-programme/ennis-age-friendly-town.html

Key facts

Main target group: Older people in general

Sector(s): Education, Health, Information and communication, Transportation, Urban development

Other sector(s): Social participation

Desired outcome for older people:
Meet their basic needs

Other issues the Age-friendly practice aims to address:
  • Accessibility
  • Dementia
  • Healthy behaviours (e.g. physical activity)
  • Inclusion
  • Participation
  • Other

Other Issues: Safety, purple flag, garda presence, improved commercial service delivery to older people.

Contact details

Name: Karen Fennessy

Email address: kfennessy@clarecoco.ie


Age-friendly practice in detail (click to expand):

Engaging the wider community

Project lead: Local authorities

Others involved in the project:
  • Local authorities
  • Civil Society Organisation
  • Older People’s Association
  • Social or health care provider
  • Private sector

How collaboration worked: The Ennis Age Friendly Town Plan was developed in conjunction with a number of local stakeholders both statutory and voluntary, which showcases the collaborative nature of the plan; HSE, Garda Siochana, Older Person’s Council, Ennis Chamber of Commerce, Alzheimer’s society and Ennis Mental Health Association. Additionally, Ennis MD are working with the National Transport Authority to advance the introduction of the Ennis Public Bus Service. Iarnród Éireann have installed an accessible lift and cross track bridge at Ennis Train Station to make public transport easier for wheelchair users, individuals with mobility issues and those using buggies. The ‘Message in a Bottle’ Project is being delivered by Ennis Lions Club and supported by the following emergency services; Ambulance, Fire Brigade, Gardaí, Medical Professionals, HSE, Pharmacists and the local authority. Clare Sports Partnership and Active Ennis Leisure Centre run older adults’ programmes to bring a range of physical activity opportunities to local communities. Collaboration with both statutory and voluntary sectors will facilitate older people to live fuller and more fulfilled lives through the following initiatives:- • Libraries offer a number of e-resource programmes to allow older people to learn new skills. Also they deliver in-branch digital skills training to educate older people to access other digital services. • The Technological University of Shannon (TUS) recently opened a campus in Ennis which has brought 3rd level education to the town. TUS are a member of the Clare Age Friendly Alliance and are looking at a model of flexible learning opportunities for older people. • The Limerick Clare Education Training Board offer education programmes based in the community to allow people of all ages and abilities to develop their knowledge and skills. • The Clare Age Friendly Programme has done extensive collaboration with agencies and community groups based in Ennis, to further promote opportunities to older people for social engagement, life-long learning, physical and mental wellbeing e.g. through the Older People’s Council, Tidy Towns, Clarecare, Men’s Shed and Active Retirement groups. • Greater accessibility and improved mobility around the town, including planning for a new town bus service, will enable older people to live, socialise, work and visit the town of Ennis with ease. Ennis was successful under the Government’s Urban Regeneration and Development Fund for two public realm projects and will spend a total of €13m to regenerate and rejuvenate the town centre, significantly improving accessibility for pedestrians, providing an enhanced streetscape, and delivering two expanded, high quality civic spaces. The outcome of the ‘Walkability Study’ of Ennis helped inform where the €13 million Urban Regeneration Funding should be spent to improve accessibility to the town centre, particularly for older people and people with disabilities. The overall aim of the project is to make the town centre experience more appealing and conducive for both retail and social purposes. Ennis MD have also secured funding under the National Transport Authority’s ‘Active Travel’ grants to implement a broad number of accessibility enhancements in and around Ennis and its environs including widening of footpaths, drop kerbs, controlled crossing locations, additional seating and some environmental improvements. Outdoor Recreational Infrastructure Scheme funding was secured to implement age-friendly measures at amenity areas including footpath enhancement and appropriate seating.

Older people’s involvement: Older people were involved in the age-friendly practice at multiple or all stages

Details on older people’s involvement: Members of the Clare Older People’s Council have been involved in the decision-making process of the Age Friendly Town initiative and they have a member on the Age Friendly Town Committee. A number of walkability audits were conducted with the Older Persons Council/Wheelchair users and persons with limited abilities. The Age Friendly Town Plan sets out the vision for the town alongside the actions to address key issues, which have been informed by the Survey and the Walkability Study.

Moving forward

Has the impact of this age-friendly practice been analysed: Yes

Was the impact positive or negative:
Positive

Please share with us what you found in detail:
The Older People’s Council and disability organisations met with the Town Engineers to assess the finished installation of the shared surface priority areas. Feedback from them was very positive. Please see youtube link of Launch of Ennis as an Age Friendly Town: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FKDh3hVr4M

Feedback:
Universal design is now at the heart of all new projects in the Ennis area. The Older People’s Council and vulnerable road users are invited to feed into the design and post evaluation of capital projects. The older persons council is consulted with on new initiatives. The public realm enhancements introduced to date are future-proofed, they facilitate ease of movement and make the town inviting to persons of all abilities. Inclusion of age-friendly seating affords everyone the opportunity to rest and enhances their experience of the urban environment. These are the comments of the Vice-Chair of the Older People’s Council who sat on the Age Friendly Town Committee: “The valuable role that older people play in shaping their communities for the better cannot be underestimated. As a member of the Ennis Age Friendly Town Team, I am pleased to say to you today that the priority of the older person has been at the heart of this Age Friendly Town programme. The Clare Older People’s Council are a voluntary group that give the opportunity for older people to share their concerns about living in their community. We work with key agencies and service providers to resolve these issues. The Older People’s Council has participated in the key decisions of the development of both the Clare Age Friendly Strategy and the Ennis Age Friendly Town Plan. As a member of the Clare Age Friendly Alliance Board, the Older People’s Council represent the views of older people at local, regional and national level. We feel that the development of Clare’s first Age Friendly Town is both urgent and timely. The wonderful work carried out on our public spaces around the town by Ennis MD and the Age Friendly initiatives being delivered by other agencies will benefit all of us whether ‘young’, ‘yet to age’ or ‘actively ageing’. What’s more, we believe that Ennis as an Age Friendly Town will benefit everyone in the community, not just the older people”. The Ennis Age Friendly Town was only launched in August 2021. As yet, we have received no negative feedback on the public realm works and other initiatives that were done as part of this project. This will be monitored closely and the views of the public will be taken on board.

Expansion plans:
Yes we plan to expand the practice as there is a planned Phase 2 and Phase 3 of public realm works which will involve more areas of the town being converted to shared surface priority to improve accessibility. These further phases will be funded under the Government’s Urban Regeneration Fund. Further walkability studies have taken place in other County Clare towns and the outcomes of these reports are already influencing applications for active travel funding which will improve accessibility in these areas. We also plan to build other initiatives around this and create other age friendly towns.

Looking back

Reflections:
We would like to acknowledge the efforts of all the stakeholders of the Ennis Age Friendly Town Team, who are working in a collaborative way to deliver actions that will improve the lives of the older community in Ennis. We feel that this has been a successful process in developing our first Age Friendly Town. We now intend to replicate this process in other areas of the County to further develop Age Friendly Communities.

Challenges:
While Covid19 presented challenges in terms of restrictions in construction, once these restrictions were lifted public realm work progressed fairly quickly while travel restrictions were still in place. Covid19 slowed down some of the other initiatives where agencies needed to collaborate together. However, these challenges were overcome by moving meetings on line.

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