Housing Policy Coordinator, City of Aalst
+32 (0)53 73 24 32
“Living at home for a long time is great but the risk of isolation is real. Elderly people should be able to participate in public life as long as possible. This is why we need the Ouderentoets: screening of the infrastructure as well as the total services of the (city) administration. This has not yet happened anywhere in Flanders. The methodology must first be developed, and then also effectively applied and realized. At the end of the project, a method must be available that can also be applied by other local administrations."
Elderly people constitute a very significant group within society. In the City of Aalst, for instance, one in four residents is older than 60 year of age. More than 5% of the residents is even older than 80. This 'ageing among the ageing' will only increase in the coming years.
We note that the policy of many (city) administrations, however, is not yet aligned to this target group. We realize of course that 'the elderly' are not the only target group in society and that the policy should strive for an offering that is aimed at all inhabitants of the city. Still, we think that the elderly target group is very relevant: if the public domain and public services are properly accessible, clearly understandable and attractive for older people, then everyone enjoys it.
In this regard, we have to keep in the back of our minds that the target group 'elderly' does not exist. It concerns a very heterogeneous group: there are elderly people in need of care, elderly that are or are not mobile, elderly in the center and in the rural sub-municipalities of the city, those that live alone or together with their partner, older people who live with children or grandchildren, that are still active in club activities and those who (nearly) never go outside any more.
The objective of this project is to have all of these elderly people, who are represented in the test audience, test the public space and services of the city. For the various policy areas of the city administration (social affairs, culture, sports, mobility, nature, tourism, public works, communication, events...), we want to in each case test the extent to which the infrastructure and the services take the elderly into account. To this end, we would like:
- to make it possible that the elderly (whether needing care or not) who live at home have access to public life and in this way counteract the risk of social isolation as a condition of being able to live longer at home;
- to avoid the need for care by preventing accidents in the proximal living environment and through the use of public space and services;
- to guarantee the accessibility of public services (including care services) for the elderly (whether in need of care or not);
- to guarantee that also more socially disadvantaged target groups can automatically and easily make use of the services of the city or municipality;
- to maximally involve the elderly in public life and to also enable them to optimally enjoy the services in the municipal territory.
The intention is to have developed a method by the end of the project that, thanks to the test audience, is aligned to the needs and desires of the elderly and that therefore, provided adjustments to the local reality of course, can be applied in other cities and municipalities.
The Elderly Test project is a cooperation partnership between strongly complementary organizations and companies: the City of Aalst (various services, from public space to the cultural program), Enter npo (expert with regard to accessibility), 't Oorhuis (hearing problems) and the Zorginnovatiecluster npo (unifies 59 organizations, hospitals, municipal administrations and companies from the care sectors in the south-east Flanders region).