Strategy to ease life for elders

By Meg Hill

The City of Melbourne is finalising its draft four-year plan to address the needs of older people living in the municipality. 

The Melbourne: A Great Place to Age strategic plan was launched in October 2019 in an attempt to address findings that older people in the City of Melbourne were vulnerable.

The findings included that, of residents aged 65 and over, 30 per cent relied on an aged pension and over a third of residents over 60 had no internet access. A third were also living alone.

The strategy was also devised to address the unprecedented population, infrastructure and housing growth, and longer life expectancy.

The draft that has been put together since October outlined four outcome areas as:

Respect: civic participation, respect and social inclusion

Safety: housing, outdoor spaces and buildings and transportation

Connection: social participation

Support: community and health services, communication and information

One specific action outlined included a dementia-friendly neighbourhood “demonstration project” with community education, design of the built environment and partnerships with peak bodies, community organisations, and people living with dementia and their families.

The draft plan states based on the impact of COVID-19 additional actions were added. These include:

Addressing loneliness and social isolation, particularly with the COVID-19 physical distancing requirements, through providing targeted programs in local neighbourhoods to increase access to the internet, technology, training and support to reduce the digital divide;

Providing outreach to vulnerable older people to support social participation within their neighbourhood, with a priority on building community in high-rise developments; and 

Providing outreach, individual advocacy and individual support to connect older people with services and programs, in particular vulnerable groups facing barriers to accessing services. 

The council’s people city portfolio chair Cr Beverley Pinder said she was “greatly moved” by the report. 

“In our quest to be one of the great cities of the world in which to grow older, we must listen and respond to the experiences of older people living and working in our city,” she said.

Cr Pinder said feedback on the draft strategy was “comprehensive and enlightening.” 

 “Loneliness and isolation are also challenging – and this is exacerbated by crises such as COVID-19.  We must act together as a community to help our ageing people connect meaningfully in their day-to-day lives,” she said. 

“Through your feedback, we heard that connection to community is incredibly important to older residents and I’m proud of the work that we already do in this area through supporting community groups and providing social support.”

 “And, with the number of Melbourne residents aged 60 and over expected to triple in the next 20 years, it’s important that we continue to support older residents to live active, healthy, happy lives where they feel connected to and valued by all whom they interact with in the community.”

The draft strategy went before councillors for approval at the June 23 Future Melbourne Committee meeting shortly after the July edition of CBD News had been published •

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