The UN Resolution follows recent endorsement of the Decade by the World Health Assembly, and calls upon the World Health Organization to lead the implementation of the Decade, in collaboration with the other UN organizations.

The UN sees population ageing as one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century, with implications for nearly all sectors of society. The global population aged 65 and over is growing faster than all other age groups. In the UK alone the Office for National Statistics projects that in 50 years’ time, there are likely to be an additional 8.6 million people aged 65 years – a population roughly the size of London.

“Today’s announcement of the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing sends a clear signal that it is only by working as one, within the United Nations system and with governments, civil society and the private sector, that we will be able to not only add years to life, but also life to years,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization.

According to WHO: “Fostering Healthy Ageing requires fundamental shifts – not just in the actions we take, but in how we think and feel towards age and ageing. This involves establishing a shared understanding of what success will look like; developed through a process of multi-stakeholder engagement, collective dialogue and co-creation.”

A political priority

Given the increasing needs of society following Covid-19, the design of age-friendly communities is becoming a top political priority. This could boost the construction of more sustainable multigenerational neighbourhoods, incorporating innovative support system that foster healthy ageing.

With mounting evidence that multi and/or intergenerational contact is beneficial for people of all ages, Paul Quinn, Director of Regeneration for Clarion Housing Group, Europe’s largest social landlord, believes the UN should highlight age segregation in housing, which he says is arguably as important a challenge as our response to the climate emergency.

“By enabling people, including those coping with long term physical and mental conditions, to live extended lives in supportive and safe homes and environments, we can help residents to stay active and independent members of society while living in communities they love.”

Transforming lives and communities for the better

There is clearly an urgent need to reimagine our neighbourhoods of the future. Operating at the core of Europe’s largest housing association, ‘Clarion Futures’ is delivering one of the UK’s largest social investment programmes, investing £150 million over 10 years to provide the tools and support people need to transform their lives and communities for the better.

During the past 12 months Clarion has been engaged in a cross-business working group to ensure its communities are places where residents can age positively; a strategy which has involved collaboration with the Agile Ageing Alliance (AAA).

As many readers will know, AAA is a long standing advocate for multigenerational housing and neighbourhoods of the future, which shift the emphasis from planning for “the elderly,” or retirement communities, to a more inclusive approach for everyone, supporting ageing in place and serving as a viable alternative to age-specific care in institutional settings.

Following the AAA ISO Leaders Forum earlier this year, AAA and Clarion have joined forces with the ISO Committee on Ageing Societies and a coalition of leading practitioners committed to pooling resources, sharing data and know-how and informing the creation of an ISO gold standard for multigenerational living, in smart future proofed neighbourhoods.

Leading by example

January 28th 2021 we will regroup in a collaborative effort to address the Decade of Healthy Ageing, with specific reference to the built environment societal challenge. While there are plenty of one-off homes designed to meet the needs of older adults and/or people suffering from dementia. There are few examples of those homes being built at scale, and even fewer examples of whole neighbourhoods being designed with such principles at their heart. We will reveal plans to co-create multiple examples of both; interconnected living test beds, that will help to define the essence of best practice – at an unprecedented scale.

The objective is to construct “no fuss” mixed tenure neighbourhoods, where young and old, disabled and able, can co-exist in well-designed technologically enabled housing, with access to bespoke services to help facilitate independent living and enhance wellbeing.

Clarion’s Regeneration team are currently identifying suitable sites where these principles can be embedded from day one, in both the design and operation of neighbourhoods and homes. We are actively seeking partners and like-minded organisations to bring their own particular skillset to bear in terms of built environment, design, place-making, public health and care, mobility, technology and research.

Orchestrating effective coordination of regional, national and international interventions, this ground-breaking collaborative R&D initiative aims to establish what ‘good looks like’. To break the the tyranny of uniformity and reset the drift towards care based on separation. To reimagine neighbourhoods where people of all ages and abilities can live alongside one another in environments that enhance wellbeing, happiness and quality of life.

Get involved

If you are responsible for planning, finance, asset management, infrastructure, sustainability, tenant engagement, procurement, governance and compliance, or research, you are welcome to join the next AAA ISO Leaders Forum 28.01.2021. Made possible by Clarion, here you will meet coalition partners, find out how to get involved, and learn, discuss, engage with peers and expert speakers. Follow this link to register.

With best wishes for a very healthy and prosperous New Year.

Article Author:

Ian Spero, Founder Agile Ageing Alliance

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