In 2021 the City of Vaasa has continued to implement the City’s plan to support older people, and the age-friendliness action programme for 2020-2025.
The social welfare and healthcare services of the City of Vaasa is being transferred to a new organization called the health and social services county of Ostrobothnia, which will serve 13 municipalities in the Ostrobothnia area beginning 1.1.2022. The goal of the national health and social services reform is to develop healthcare and social welfare services and reorganise their structure. The reform will transfer the responsibility for organising services to 22 health and social services counties. How the reform will affect the age-friendliness action programme of the City of Vaasa is still unclear. However it is clear that new forms of cooperation between the City of Vaasa and the local health and social service county will be needed.
Partly due to the aforementioned reform the City of Vaasa will not complete a follow up of the age friendly actions programme 2020-2025 during the year 2021. Another reason is that the follow up is unnecessary due to the relatively small need for updates in the action programme. The need for updating the programme will be larger next year.
Some of the main age friendliness actions of 2021 have been:
- The implementation of the Ministry of the Environment’s Suburban Programme 2020-2022 in the Ristinummi district. The population of the Ristinummi district is about 7,100 with 23 % of the population over 65 years old. The grants from the ministry covers 35 % of the cost of actions, which mainly focuses on the built environment. Accessibility and age-friendliness are key goals of the Suburban Programme. The inhabitans of Ristinummi have plenty of opportunities to participate in the project and affect the development of the district during the short and long term.
- The construction of an age-friendly residential district in Ravilaakso, Vaasa, is getting started in 2022. The district has the potential to develop into one of the best living environments for older people in the entire Ostrobothnian region. The number of habitants will be approximately 2,500 when the district is finished in the 2030’s. The district includes a complete street block with around 130 apartments designed for elderly people and with different services within the apartment buildings of the block. A big part of the apartments will have low rents controlled by The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA). Many elderly people have low incomes and need to live in the city center, where living is usually more expensive. The Ravilaakso district is located only 1.5 km from the city center.
- The City of Vaasa provides cost free indoor locations for elderly people. It is important to guarantee that these locations are available also in the future. This is one of many goals of the local age friendly programme.
Age friendly practice of 2021:
- During both the summer of 2020 and 2021 extensive mappings of the accessibility of the outdoor environment were conducted on a large area in different parts of the city. The focus of the mappings was especially on streets and crosswalks, pedestrian and bicycle lanes, as well as entrances of crucial public buildings. The mapping of the spots was done by foot using a smartphone based GIS-application with access to a map database. The planning of the mapped routes and areas was considerably steered by the age of the population living in different parts of the city. This means that the areas with more elderly residents were prioritized since the necessity of accessibility can be expected to be especially crucial in these areas. The findings of the mappings have provided a valuable ground for the planning of accessibility improvements, and they will continue to do so in the future as well. The findings are, and will be, put on the city webpages for open access.
Vaasa hopes to be able to adopt and implement the Global Network’s principles and practices locally in the City and throughout the whole Ostrobothnian region. The local implementation could happen through the health and social services county of Ostrobothnia.