City&Co: Older Adults Co-Creating a Sustainable Age-friendly City

How age-friendly are our cities? The international City&Co project is developing measuring tools and a co-creative approach for this. The project was awarded a substantial grant in the international ERA-NET Urban Transformation Capacities (ENUTC) competition within the framework of the European Commission’s Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe. Together, research partners in the Netherlands, Poland and Romania will investigate the age-friendliness of The Hague, Wrocław, Kraków and Bucharest.

Over 1,100 cities worldwide have joined the World Health Organization’s Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. The consortium works on a reliable measuring tool for age-friendliness, in which we fully involve older people. This will provide a basis for many other cities to build on. The project’s ultimate goal is a local ecosystem of the over 65s, researchers and municipal employees who together make the city more age-friendly. This forms an internationally useful basis for collecting relevant data on age-friendliness, which will allow municipalities to govern more adequately and based on evidence.

Measuring Age-Friendliness

The City&Co project involves the development of an innovative tool for the qualitative and quantitative assessment of the age-friendliness of cities. The basis for the first part of this tool, the Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Questionnaire, is already in place. The Hague University of Applied Sciences developed this quantitative measuring tool with partners on behalf of the municipality of The Hague. It is a list of 23 questions covering areas such as housing, social participation, healthcare facilities and one’s financial situation. The consortium translates and adapts this list for use in Poland and Romania. Then we will apply the questionnaire in The Hague, Wrocław, Kraków and Bucharest.

Four cities, four contexts

With the Polish-Romanian-Dutch collaboration, the project team is laying a foundation that can be used in many countries. They work in Slavic, Romance and Germanic languages, and more countries with other languages are expected to follow. In addition, there are significant differences between the participating countries, for instance in terms of the availability and affordability of public transport and the coordination of services for older people. That is why we tailor the measuring tool to the local context. The measuring tool is unique. In 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) validated the tool for measuring age-friendliness of cities.

Innovative tool

In 2023, the project will continue with a qualitative method to measure the perceived age-friendliness in the four cities. Together with people aged 65 and over, we are developing a mobile website, a portal, where they can post pictures and messages about the age-friendliness of the area. That will enable us to collect data, from which we derive insights that we link to the rating of a neighbourhood or district. The next step is a qualitative approach for joint decision-making and co-creation of policies with municipalities and actions at neighbourhood level. In doing so, we offer tools to work on age-friendliness.

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