Giving a voice to older people

A group of older people from across Aberdeenshire met recently at Aberdeenshire Council’s headquarters in Aberdeen to debate issues about the future development of health and social care support for older people.

The event was part of a wider project called ‘Your Voice’ and attended by around 40 older people who discussed solutions to transport issues, day services, residential services, living at home, communities and how they access information.

A question and answer session was also held with representatives of the NHS, Aberdeenshire Council’s Housing and Social Work Service and the voluntary sector.

The event was the culmination of work funded by Aberdeenshire Council’s Housing and Social Work Service and carried out by the Mearns and Coastal Healthy Living Network into community capacity building for older people.

Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson welcomed participants to the event and said: “It is expected that by 2020, the number of people living in Aberdeenshire over the age of 85 will rise by 75%.

“This increase will have a resulting impact on the demand for services, housing and community facilities to accommodate this.

“To be able to cope with this increase in demand, it is important that we start planning now and determining what we will need to be able to provide in the future.

“Groups such as the Mearns and Coastal Healthy Living Network do a fantastic job working with both statutory and voluntary organisations, as well as community groups to improve the health of older people.”

A ‘Charter for Older People’ was drawn up during the meeting to be included as part of long term planning for older peoples’ services for the next ten years.

The ‘Your Voice’ initiative has aimed to set up groups in local communities across the area.

Groups in Strathdon, Inverbervie and Fraserburgh have been involved in a wide range of ideas from the better use of community transport, to local composting and befriending schemes and new groups have been set up in Banff, the Mearns, Portlethen and Cuminestown.

A survey has also been carried out to gather views about services and 300 people have responded with the results used to form the basis for the charter.

The ‘Your Voice’ project will continue its work in 2012 to develop and support groups of older people to have a say in planning for services.

For more information about the ‘Your Voice’ project contact Mearns and Coastal Healthy Living Network on 01561 378130 or 07968699803, at MCHLN, 44 High Street, Laurencekirk, AB30 1AB or mchln.edgarrett@gmail.com