Age Friendly Community Innovation Award
Sponsored by An Post
South Dublin Age Friendly Ambassadors
The consultation process, carried out as part of the South Dublin Age Friendly County Strategy development in 2012, revealed that there is a need to ensure that vulnerable older people at risk of isolation and exclusion are not forgotten. This issue was taken on board by Tús Nua who developed the idea for this project. They invited members to become Age Friendly Ambassadors for their own area. The aim of these Ambassadors is to identify their older neighbours who may be at risk of becoming isolated and to invite them to become involved in some of the many clubs, groups and events that take place in the County. Ambassadors are equipped with information about services and opportunities and can assist them with accessing these. They are given regular updates about festivals, grants, new activities, etc. and are actively involved in promoting these positive opportunities.
This project began in April 2013 and to date 31 Ambassadors have been conferred with their honorary status by the Mayor of South Dublin County. They meet monthly to support each other and to share ideas. They each give an update on the contacts they have made and the progress they have made. They have also been involved in promoting initiatives such as the Smoke Alarm Scheme, and as a result over 200 smoke alarms have been installed in older people’s homes. They will be undertaking a 12 session training programme in 2015 which is being designed to upskill them in areas that they have identified. Funding has been secured from South Dublin County Council for this training.
50…60…70…Older People Helping Older People
Cara House opened in Letterkenny in 2004 with a committee of 3 to provide activities for older people. Since then a range of activities have been established, chosen, developed and in many cases provided by older people as volunteers. Older people facilitate a number of the activities such as 2-hand dancing, circle dancing, walking, knitting and crochet and Irish conversation. They have also requested computer classes, art classes, Zumba, Chairobics, Dressmaking, Spanish and Gardening. Among the other activities run from Cara House include a ‘Helping Hands’ and befriending service, a café providing affordable lunches, the ‘Good Morning, Letterkenny’ service which is hosted in Cara House. Many older people also volunteer in the local after-school clubs.
The activities have been a huge success and cater for an average of 50 people a week at the art and dancing activities while up to 100 people attend the computer classes. Instead of one morning a week, the centre now provides activities for older people six days a week.
As part of the Louth Age Friendly County Programme the Cúltaca has been introduced to strengthen capacity to provide information to older people. Based on a Dutch model “Cúltaca” is the Irish name for the service brokers meaning a ‘strong support’ or ‘backup’.
This alternative model of support for older people, which is provided by two full time employees of the Netwell Centre at DKIT, places the older person at the centre of decision making. The role of the Cúltaca is one of ‘enabler’ rather than ‘doer’. The Cúltaca allows for the older person’s needs and wishes to be listened to, relevant information shared and an action plan agreed with follow up service delivery arranged.
The Cúltaca promote and develop a person centred approach to care to ensure the wants and needs of the older person take priority over standard service delivery. In particular the Cúltaca act as a liaison between the statutory and non-statutory services and the older person, and in doing so breaks down some of the barriers that are regularly encountered. Having developed a trusting relationship with the older person the Cúltaca follows through to ensure that all entitlements are availed of. Voluntary supports are encouraged and promoted. This can ivolve anything fron finding out about and applying for social welfare entitlements to organising transport to local community events. In building the model the Cúltaca has built up a team of 50 volunteers which visit and support a large number of older people across Louth. The Cúltaca maintain an ongoing relationship with all volunteers’ thus promoting improved communications. This model supports the development of a community network which benefits the older person.
Through the Cúltaca older peoples’ specific and unique needs are more easily identified and sourced with the voice of the older person playing a key role.
The DCU Intergenerational Learning Programme (DCUILP)
The DCU Intergenerational Learning Programme (DCUILP) began in Dublin City University in 2008 with the aim of valuing and respecting the role of older people in third level teaching and learning. It seeks to develop a community of learning both on campus and online where older people from the wider community can meet and learn with younger third level students and staff. The programme is open to all older people regardless of their previous educational experience and it encourages them to share their lived experience, wisdom and knowledge in the university. In return, a variety of learning opportunities are provided for the older people in an environment that is friendly and engaging for both older and younger people.
The programme provides a gateway to formal and informal learning opportunities for older people and it allows them to avail of the University’s resources such as clubs, societies and cultural activities. Courses on offer include Introduction to Genealogy; Life-writing; Music; Law and Government; Science; Health and Well-Being; Media Studies. For example one-on-one tutoring in information and communications technology skills is available between DCU students and older people aiming to break down barriers and fear of the use of technology. To date over 800 older people and over 500 DCU students have participated in the programme.
As the first Age Friendly University, the concept of positive ageing is now an integral part of the university and the programme is supported by the President and DCU Schools and Faculties. Students and staff are offered the chance to participate in the programme in a volunteering capacity. For the students this has provided them with an opportunity to apply for credits as part of their main degree programmes. These credits are called Personal Opportunity for Development Credits or PODS. This requires the DCU students to critically reflect and write about their experience of engaging with the older people as part of the programme and many students have reflected on the positive benefits for them both in a personal and professional capacity.
In 2014 the Programme was awarded Erasmus+ funding (in association with the University of Erlangen Germany, the University of Helsinki Finland and E-Seniors France) to develop a project which promotes the use of online learning opportunities for older people across Europe. The programme is also part of a European programme which is evaluating the role of intergenerational solidarity across Europe.
Other events included; an Intergenerational Fashion evening organised in collaboration with the DCU Style Society, an intergenerational conversation on books organised in collaboration with the DCU Book Club and two conferences on the theme of positive ageing. Each year the DCUILP has organised an award ceremony to celebrate the participation of the older students. The awards have been presented by the President of the University and other staff.
The DCUILP has presented papers at UCD and Harvard University to highlight the benefits of older people engaging with university students and staff on a third level campus. In 2014 the project was one of nine universities worldwide to be awarded an Ashoka U award which explored older and younger people learning from their shared stories and photographs together. This is now been further developed with multi-media students and staff from the School of Communications, in association with older people who are part of the DCUILP.