Committed To Becoming More Age-Friendly
Louth County Council was the first local authority in Ireland to launch the Louth Age Friendly County Initiative on November 2008. The initiative was endorsed by the then County Manager Conn Murray who appointed a Project Manager, Mary Deery to manage the adoption of the initiative. The Louth initiative was the original ‘design & build’ approach and informed the models and structures now followed today across the wider network of age friendly city/county programmes.
What did Older People tell us:
Louth designed and built the process that is now being adopted across Ireland and this included extensive consultation and engagement with older people. Older people highlighted five key areas that were of vital importance which were
- access to information and the challenges it presented
- transport (lack of/access to)
- Health services
- housing and the promotion of independent living, and
- safety & security
How has the County responded:
Following the production and launch of the strategy in late 2009 an action plan was developed jointly with the newly formed Older Persons Forum. Given the structure of the County it was agreed that working groups would be established across the key critical areas in order to execute the actions and support implementation.
Housing – The Great Northern Haven: Driven by a Working Group a period of consultation was followed by a detailed process of development and fund-raising which resulted in a flagship purpose-built development of sixteen ‘smart’ apartments to enable independent living and enhance quality of life amongst older adults. The apartments were designed and constructed specifically for Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) applications. Each apartment has 100+ sensors, connected TV’s, touch screen devices and a core network infrastructure throughout. One apartment is maintained as a demonstration and transitional unit for people moving from acute based care, back to their homes. The development is a reference site for Irish, European and Global visitors. The research is set to inform the development of good-practice guidelines for housing for older people.
Safety & Security – The Trusted Tradesmen: The Chief Superintendent promoted the National An Garda Siochana Older Person’s strategy and adopted and published a local, customised version for County Louth. Bogus Caller cards were circulated widely; crime prevention days were held; an older persons register was developed and the concept of the trusted tradesmen was developed.
Health Services – the Cultaca: A HSE led group was established and looked at solutions to issues raised. These included the development of the Cultaca (Brokerage) role which has supported 1200 vulnerable older people over the last 4 years; a chronic disease remote monitoring project; the development of Places to Flourish a reformative approach to service delivery and long term care in residential homes and other settings.
Information – Louth Age Friendly Website: Louth Older Peoples Forum co-created a website with key service providers which focussed on simplifying access to information, thereby creating a ‘one stop’ shop, with limited jargon ensuring everyone could easily access relevant information. The group created and tested an age friendly website which included information relating to older people. The policy adopted was one of “no wrong door” which had a vision that front line services would promote the use of the website and act as a catalyst for information. Where places where older people convened (e.g. a Day Care Centre) these would become hubs of information or “parlours.” This three stage approach is now being adopted by other counties as a successful mean of connecting older people with information that they need.
Transport Audit: In the first instance funding was secured from the Department of Transport to conduct an audit of transport services across County Louth. The purpose of the audit was to areas with a significant transport deficit. One of the key issues that emerged was that interconnectivity was a critical problem for older people i.e. the walk to the bus stop; the two mile journey into town from a rural area. As a result action areas have been identified including the introduction of seating at bus stops; areas where bus shelters are required; a new transport link to Drogheda hospital; reroutes from remote areas such as Clogherhead. A transport survey will help to inform the existing action plan for the working group.
For more detailed information on these and the other commitments / actions please refer to the Louth Age Friendly County Strategy