An age-friendly city is a city that encourages active ageing by optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance the quality of life as people age - World Health Organisation
Staying connected to events and people and having access to timely, practical information to manage life and meet personal needs is vital for active ageing. Many of the older people who contributed to this strategy felt that there was probably more going on in Bristol that they knew about, but don’t always know how to access these things.
The World Health Organisation states that in an Age-friendly Community it is important to have relevant information that is readily accessible to older people with varying capacities and resources. This is particularly important in an age when rapidly evolving information and communication technologies are both welcomed as useful tools yet also criticised for excluding older people who may not have the confidence, skills or means to access the internet.
The 2018 annual survey of the Bristol Older People’s Forum found that 54% of respondents aged 55+ had access to the internet. This figure remained similar for those aged 65 and over, although decreased to 44% of respondents aged 75 and 30% of respondents aged 85 and over. Anecdotally, older people we talk to report having access to the internet, but not actively using it.
In a digital age with decreasing budgets, there is a growing trend to put information online and not to print out hard copies. For example, Bristol City Council has a comprehensive website to provide information to Bristol residents, connect them with available support, and invite citizens to consult on Council policies.
This growing reliance on digital technology for communication and information is proving to be problematic for older people who don’t have the necessary skills in using information technology.
Across all conversations with older people, many wanted the option of accessing information physically as well as online. Suggestions included encouraging local businesses to advertise local events in shop windows or printed copies available in libraries or health centres.
Many people noted that they would prefer printed copies of information but also didn’t want to be swamped in paper and junk mail.
Other forms of Communication
Bristol also has innovative ways of disseminating information. The weekly radio show called The Babbers (which was set up from funding provided by Bristol Ageing Better) enables older people to stay connected and is run by and for older people and features interviews, discussions and news of interest to older people in the city.
Bristol Ageing Better funded a podcast series, Here We Grow, which featured over 30 older people talking about the 8 domains, and how they related to their life. These podcasts were featured on The Babbers radio show and were also listened to at a series of events that were held in various local libraries around the city.
Work with local resources such as WellAware, Care Direct, LinkAge and Bristol Older Peoples Forum to coordinate shared resources
Coproduce ‘Age-friendly Toolkits’ to help organisations to improve their services for older people
Encourage local services such as health centres and shops to provide information boards that are kept updated.
Map all available tech and computer classes and address any gaps.
In June 2021, BAB held a partnership meeting focused on age-friendly communication and information. This involved speakers from LinkAge, Alive and BAB. You can read the meeting notes here.