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The Age Friendly Ireland Shared Service has made significant progress over recent years in advancing the issue of creating an age friendly Ireland. This vision is emphasised in the 2020 Programme for Government: Our Shared Future. Following the establishment of age friendly alliances in every local authority, local strategies have been developed that are making a real difference to the lives of increasing numbers of older people. The findings assist relevant staff in improving the lives of older people at no or minimal additional cost through deliberate decision making at design stage.

Local Age Friendly programmes involve the development of a multi-agency approach to age-related planning and service provision. Local programmes help cities and counties to be more inclusive of older people by addressing their expressed concerns and introducing practical responses aimed at improving the quality of life of all citizens. Through consistent application of this methodology throughout Ireland, Age Friendly Ireland Shared Service brings together, supports and provides technical guidance to the 31 local authority led, multiagency Age Friendly City and County Programmes.

Two key pieces of ‘infrastructure’ are developed in the process of adopting and supporting an Age Friendly City or County programme. These are the Age Friendly Alliance and the Older People’s Council.

There is a standard template for the application of the Age Friendly concept at city and county level.

The key points in the process are as follows:

Resolution of the City County Council

Signature of the Dublin Declaration

Establishment of an Age Friendly Alliance

Consultations with Older People

Launch and Publication of a Strategy

Establishment of an Older People’s Council

who themes

The 8 World Health Organisation (WHO) Age Friendly Themes

For years, policy relating to older people dealt almost exclusively with health and social care issues, focussing on burden and costs. The age friendly approach recognises that social, economic and environmental factors are interconnected. The adoption of the WHO eight domain age-friendly model helped to broaden the view of ageing beyond health while also providing a perspective of older people as contributors to, rather than burdens on, society.

  • Community Support and Health Services
  • Civic Participation and Employment
  • Communication and Information
  • Social Participation
  • Respect and Social Inclusion
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Outdoor spaces and buildings

The eight-domain framework provides a means to open up conversations about the lived experience of ageing while the establishment of older people’s councils offers a platform for older people to speak and influence the structures and working approach of key statutory agencies. That the framework was inspired by a WHO programme of work, introduced much needed credibility and endorsement while also paving the way for a consistent application across new programme areas.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities

‘Over a decade ago, the World Health Organisation extended an invitation to the countries of the world to start preparing for population ageing, using a collaborative mechanism where all members and affiliates of the WHO Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities inspire, support and learn from each other.

Through remarkable leadership, forward thinking and concrete actions, Ireland has demonstrated time and time again their commitment to developing a truly age friendly society for their citizens.

We must remember that health and wellbeing are determined not only by our genes and personal characteristics but also by the physical and social environments in which we live our lives. Environments play an important role in determining our physical and mental capacity across a person’s life course and into older age and also how well we adjust to loss of function and other forms of adversity that we may experience at different stages of life, and in particular in later years. Both older people and the environments in which they live are diverse, dynamic and changing. In interaction with each other they hold incredible potential for enabling or constraining Healthy Ageing.

The World Health Organisation is proud and honoured to have Ireland as an integral part of our WHO Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.’

Thiago Herick de Sa, PhD
Thiago Herick de Sa, PhD