Health services are one of the key areas of an Age-friendly community, but health and wellbeing are broader outcomes of all the areas of community planning and design that make up an Age-friendly community, including transport, inclusion, and the built environment. That is why health is one of the major priority areas for COTA Queensland.
There has been a great deal happening lately in regard to the health of all of us as we age in Queensland, including the Australian Department of Health releasing its plan for the next 3-10 years in the key areas of mental health, primary care, hospitals, preventive health and medical research. In Queensland, you may have also seen the Activate! Queensland strategy, a ten-year plan to improve the health of Queenslanders through physical activity and Healthy Ageing: A Strategy for Older Queenslanders. A number of Primary Health Networks and Hospital and Health Services are also developing their plans for the coming years.
What is important about health strategies and initiatives is that they take a view over the infrastructure, policy, and resources in the whole community. What that means is that people have access to not just health services and supports, but the community connections, social supports, transport, built environment, citizenship opportunities, and other aspects of life that support them to live the lives they value and to not just retain, but increase their wellbeing. Increasing or improving health services, including training around the needs of older people, is important. However, if the environment around people doesn’t support them to access those services, if they can’t get transport or the support they need to physically attend a service, if they are isolated, or experience ageism, if they can’t afford services or don’t have adequate housing, all these factors and more impact on health in powerful ways. That is why we work with Local and State Government and the community to stimulate and support change in all aspects of age-friendly communities as part of our work around health.
Internationally, we are about to enter the World Health Organisation’s Decade of Healthy Ageing from 2020 to 2030. This is an opportunity to bring together governments, civil society, international agencies, professionals, academia, the media, and the private sector for ten years of collaborative action to improve the lives of older people, their families, and the communities in which they live. This is an opportunity for all of us to come together to look at our communities and have a conversation about what needs to be done to ensure we can all live lives we value as we age. It is an opportunity for collaboration and collective action to create the change we want to see.
COTA Queensland’s Healthy Ageing Forum in November was the first step in taking this approach, bringing together a range of Government and non-Government stakeholders to address health priorities through an Age-friendly lens. We invite you to join us in our continued work in this space as we embark on the Decade of Healthy Ageing.
Interested in being involved? Join our Community Reference Network.