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The Kildare Age Friendly County Programme was launched in 2010 and is currently co-ordinated by Kildare County Council and led by an independent Chairperson, Tommy Murray. A collaborative and cohesive approach through existing structures, the programme aims to extend and improve the reach of networks and service providers. Improved communications and increased awareness will lead to better planning and greater effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of services. The programme is built on the recognition of the valuable role that older people can and should play in shaping their communities for the better.
The County Alliance operates in conjunction with Age Friendly Ireland and the World Health Organisation. Kildare was one of the first counties to adopt the programme, which it is now operational in every local authority in Ireland. The Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme aims to make Ireland a truly great place in which to grow old.
The programme is led by the Kildare Age Friendly County Alliance, compromising older people’s representatives and senior decision makers from key public, private and not for profit agencies.
Older people in Kildare are represented by the Kildare Older Persons Council. They send representatives to each Alliance meeting, in order to communicate the needs and views of older people in the county.
Tommy Murray was appointed as the independent chairperson of the Kildare Age Friendly Alliance. He is tasked with using his wealth of experience in order to steer the work of the Alliance in order to best serve the older people of the county.
The remainder and the majority of the Alliance is made up of representatives from many organisations in the county that provide resources and services to older people. These include the HSE, an Garda Síochana, Kildare County Council, the Libraries and Arts Services, Kildare Sports Partnership, Kildare Local Enterprise Office and Kildare Wicklow Education and Training Board.
This is the second strategy produced by the Kildare Age Friendly County Alliance. The development of the 2016-2018 strategy took a full year. This ensured that the process was complete and all encompassing.
These components all contributed to the formation of this strategy which was approved by the Age Friendly County Alliance and Kildare County Council in late 2015.
The aims and objectives of the 2016-2018 strategy have been developed and agreed with individual objective owners. Each objective has a direct owner, thus improving accountability and clarity of responsibility. To ensure that the objectives are achieved throughout Kildare, a Service Providers Forum will be established in each municipal district in order to rollout the Strategy. Alliance members will nominate local representatives, who are active in the relevant municipal district to these forums, ensuring that the strategy, and the relevant objectives, is implemented in each locality. With local people from the older demographic and the service providers on the ground working together, we will be able to achieve the best possible outcomes in each municipal district.
The first service providers forum was established in the Naas Municipal District , capitalising on the work completed during the Naas Age Friendly Town project in 2013. Service providers forums will then follow in each MD by the end of 2016, Celbridge-Lexlip, Maynooth, Kildare-Newbridge and Athy, learning from the experience in Naas.
We want to be prepared for the future. Working towards an Age Friendly County will benefit people of all ages in Kildare, not just older people. Improvements in health, transport, the public realm, safety, etc; the advantages are universal. By getting the right people together with the right attitudes and with older people central to the message and the direction of the programme, the Kildare Age Friendly County Alliance feel that they can make significant improvement to the live of older people. A shared vision has be established together in order to achieve a set of ambitious but achievable goals. The outcomes will be resultant of an improved use of existing resources, including the experience and skills of the older people in the county. A cooperative, collaborative and cohesive Age Friendly programme allows older people to lead autonomous lives and enrich the communities in which they reside. Older people have an extremely important role to play in society and it’s important that we facilitate this, empowering people to make this contribution for as long as possible.
One of the main issues in Kildare, much like the rest of the country, is the ever expanding older population. This is very recognisable when we analyse the research on the mid-east region, of which Kildare is a part of. The over 65 population in the region is expected to see an increase of 137.5% between 2011 and 2031. This represents a change from 9% of the overall population in the region, to 16.8% in 20 years. This population increase from 16,000 to approximately 40,000 over 65’s in Kildare, would see pressure placed on service providers and resources in the county.
The Kildare Age Friendly County Alliance made huge efforts to research the issues affecting older people in Kildare prior to developing this strategy. Through several planning sessions, Communication & Information was identified as a major issue, and the Alliance have taken steps to prioritise this. As a result, a separate Communication and Information Plan has been developed, with a brand new website the centrepiece of this plan. While many other issues were raised, Health and Transport also earned prominence during this process. In addressing the issues, the Alliance has ensured that the relevant partners are involved and contributing objectives. In addition, we have ensured that all objectives correlate with the World Health Organisations Age Friendly themes.
Monitoring is an essential part of any strategy. With Service Providers Forums established in each municipal district to rollout the strategy, the Alliance have created a structure that allows for appropriate two-way communication between local and county bodies; a top down – bottom up approach to ensure optimal results. Reports will be provided at Quarterly Meetings of the Alliance from each partner while an Annual Report will be produced at year end detailing the progress of the Strategy. In using such a monitoring mechanisms, the Alliance will have a clear view of its performance. Adjustments and improvements will be made as appropriate. This strategy is designed to structure the work of the Alliance but it should also be fluid in order to accommodate beneficial suggestions and ideas that will emerge throughout the process. This will be inevitable in an all encompassing, two way communication process, involving so many stakeholders.
If you provide a service that is relevant to older people and/or are interested in the Age Friendly practices, we encourage you to get involved in the Kildare Age Friendly Programme in some way. This may be at Alliance or Service Provider level, or even in the wider community. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express interest or to make further inquiries.
Kildare Older Persons Council is a group of volunteers, who represent persons aged over 55 in Kildare. In many ways, they are the key group of the Kildare Age Friendly County Programme. The Council brings the concerns and experiences of older people to the Alliance and the voice of older people to the decision making process of the Age Friendly Initiative throughout the county and at national level through the Kildare Age Friendly Alliance.
Their main role is to act as a link between the Alliance and the older people of Kildare, identifying gaps in service and representing the needs and thoughts of older people in the county. The Older Persons Council make regular submissions to planning processes, ensuring the views of older people are recognised in consultation processes. Full council meetings take place four times a year, directing and coordinating the work of the council executive and identifying ways in which they can assist fellow Alliance partners.