In 2022, Calderdale Council commissioned Ideas Alliance to support its work on engaging with people aged 50+ and communities as part of a roject called “Ageing Well”. Their final report is now out and available as a download – Final Report: Ageing Well
Here’s the report’s executive summary to give you an overview of its contents:
The core aim of this work was to explore the question: How can people aged 50+ and communities be involved in the delivery and decision-making of Ageing Well and Age Friendly Calderdale? Between May 2022 and March 2023, a series of action research, capacity building and insight gathering activities took place to answer this question.
The core insights to emerge from these activities include:
● Strengths of current engagement work: Variety of connections with different stakeholders at an organisational level, range of existing communication channels, word-of-mouth between local organisations, willingness to learn and experiment, and confidence in consultation techniques.
● Weaknesses of current engagement work: Lack of engagement activities in the realms of co-production, difficulties in reaching specific demographics, lack of availability of printed materials in suitable formats and lack of visibility of Ageing Well and Age Friendly Calderdale in communities.
● Opportunities to develop current engagement work: Ability to bring in other partners from the area who have additional skills and expertise to contribute, a growing body of people with engagement skills (and an interest in this arena), concrete ideas from people aged 50+ as to how storytelling can be used to enhance visibility of Ageing Well and Age Friendly Calderdale in communities, there is enthusiasm for learning, development and innovation across all parts of the Ageing Well infrastructure.
● Threats to developing current engagement work: Priorities of organisations are focused on delivery of service not engagement work, lack of time and resource for engagement work, agendas being set in a ‘top-down’ manner, thus making engagement seem less valuable and a lack of designated person/people to ‘lead’ this work in the future.
A set of ideas have emerged from the work as to how these insights could be put into practice. They fall into the following areas:
1. Catalysts: Ensuring the work has leadership – a person, group or organisation that drives action forward
2. Learning: Centralising the role of ‘learning’ in Ageing Well and Age Friendly Calderdale, ensuring it is iterative and on-going
3. Resident Voice: Creating a structure and mechanisms through which residents are actively involved in the governance of Ageing Well
4. Capacity Building: Developing the skills and confidence in individuals, groups and organisations in Calderdale to conduct creative and co-productive engagement activities
5. Feedback Loops: Communicating effectively with communities about the work of Ageing Well and Age Friendly Calderdale
6. Embedding: Looking at how activity can be embedded into existing structures within and beyond Ageing Well and Age Friendly Calderdale
To support this implementation, we would recommend:
§ Continue to work across different sectors and being porous to new people, groups and organisations getting involved in Ageing Well and Age Friendly Calderdale.
§ Improve the ways that Ageing Well and Age Friendly Calderdale communicates with people aged 50+ and communities.
§ Change how Ageing Well and Age Friendly Calderdale thinks about and approaches learning and the gathering of evidence. The immediate next steps for Ageing Well and Age Friendly Calderdale to ensure that momentum behind this work is not lost, are:
- Identify the most useful existing communication channels into communities and develop a process through which regular and repeated messages can be shared.
- Establish the forum through which ‘peer support and shared learning’ for people doing engagement work in Calderdale can take place and identify the way in which learning from this feeds into wider structures (e.g. Ageing Well and beyond).
- Determine the person, people or organisation who will lead this work in the immediate and short term, ensuring that they have the time, resources and scope to lead this journey.