Health and Wellbeing

Age Friendly draft Strategy & Action Plan

Age Friendly Strategy & Action Plan 2024-2027 Consultation Document


1. Introduction

2. Context for the Age Friendly Strategy

3. The journey so far

4. Process and Implementation

5. Baseline Report Summary

6. Action Plan

7. Next Steps

Appendicies - available on the downloadable pdf.

1. Introduction

The World Health Organisation has long recognised that age-friendly environments foster healthy and active ageing.

They enable older people to age safely in a place that is right for them, be free from poverty, continue to develop personally and to contribute to their communities while retaining autonomy, health and dignity.

Because older people know best what they need, they are at the centre of any effort to create a more age-friendly world.

The physical and social environments in our towns, villages and communities are powerful influences on the experience of ageing and the opportunities that ageing affords.

The Institute of Public Health report Ageing and Public Health notes that people worldwide are living longer than ever, with life expectancy in NI having risen by several decades in the last 100 years.

The number of people in NI aged 65 or more rose by over 60,000, to almost a 25% increase from 2011 and demonstrates the scale of population change due to ageing (NISRA 2022).

Age Friendly Profile in Mid and East Antrim

Mid and East Antrim has a population of almost 140,000 people, covering an area of just over 400 square miles.

A detailed illustration of the population of Mid and East Antrim Borough is available through NINIS, however among the socio-economic characteristics of the area, the following are particularly relevant to older people and the development of an Age Friendly society:

Census 2021 data calculates the Mid and East Antrim population aged 65+ at 19.7% compared to a NI average of 17.1%.

Total borough population was 138,994, an increase of 1.3% from 2015 with the 65+ age group experiencing a 1.6% increase from 2015 (18.1%)


Residents aged 65+ in MEABC reporting:

Very good health 16.5%
Good health 36.4%
Fair health 32%
Bad health 11.3%
Very bad health 3.8%
  • 11.6% of residents aged 65+ provide unpaid care
  • • 4.8% of residents aged 65+ years have a mobility or dexterity difficulty that requires the use of a wheelchair

Residents aged 65+ in MEABC reporting long-term health problem or disability which limits day-to-day activities:

Limited a lot 24.77%
Limited a little 29.16%
Not limited 46.07%

Projected Population

NINIS projects that the population of Mid and East Antrim aged 60+ is expected to rise to 46,768 by 2043.

Life Expectancy

Life expectancy for males in Mid and East Antrim for 2017-2019 was 79.1 years, and females was 82.7 years, broadly in line with the NI average.

The production of an Age Friendly Strategy for Mid and East Antrim is a key step to ensuring that our borough aligns with the WHO vision of an age friendly environment, where we can celebrate vibrant, inclusive and cohesive communities, where our people feel safe and our older people live healthy, active lives.

Within our borough, we have strong and proud communities with a tradition of helping each other as well as supporting themselves.

Our Community Plan, ‘Putting People First’, outlines a long-term vision for Mid and East Antrim where our borough will be a strong, vibrant, safe and inclusive community where people work together to improve the quality of life for all.

The vision detailed in this document derive from the thoughts and opinions of older people in this area but also aligns with the strategic aims of the World Health Organisation, the NI Executive’s Active Ageing Strategy, the DHSSPS Making Life Better ten-year Strategy 2013 and Mid and East Antrim’s Community Plan.

This Age Friendly Strategy and Action plan aims to engrain the inclusion of older people in all aspects of community life, ensuring our people feel safe in their community, have a sense of belonging to the area and ensuring that Mid and East Antrim is an enjoyable place for older people to live.

The strategy development was commissioned by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council (MEABC) with support from the Public Health Agency (PHA) and informed by consultation with both older people and stakeholders across the sector.

It provides a framework for working in partnership, recognising the cross-cutting nature of the Age Friendly agenda, impacting across sectors and remits.

The action plan will be taken forward by a Borough wide Age Friendly Affiliation which will take ownership of the strategy and provide direction on implementing actions.

Council will adopt the role of civic facilitator, working in partnership with Age Friendly Affiliation members on strategy implementation to ensure co- ordination of energy and resources.

This strategy is not the sole responsibility of one body but rather provides a collective framework for pooling experiences and skills.

It recognises both the benefits of an Age Friendly borough for all citizens and the work already underway in establishing that vision.

The strategy also aligns with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) eight Age Friendly domains and sets out its action plans accordingly, recognising the value in the strategic nature of the WHO approach.

The baseline report accompanying this strategy and action plan provides a robust body of evidence for strategic intervention and recognises the value and significance of work undertaken to date, including by Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP) as the local Age sector interagency based partnership, in addition to bodies such as Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) and PHA.

It seeks to build on the work undertaken and achievements to date, providing a framework for further action that aligns with, and compliments the WHO Age Friendly model, established regional networks and policy context at a local level, including Mid and East Antrim’s Community Plan.

The co-design of a three-year action plan provides opportunity alongside the establishment of an Affiliation to add value, strengthen engagement with and on behalf of older people and avoid duplication of resources.

Through an Age Friendly Affiliation of equal partners, older people across Mid and East Antrim will be supported to lead healthy, rewarding and active lives to the benefit of all citizens.

2. Context for the Age Friendly Strategy

2.1 Defining Age Friendly

An Age-friendly environment is an environment (such as the home or community) that fosters healthy, active ageing by building and maintaining intrinsic capacity throughout the life-course and enabling greater functional ability in someone with a given level of capacity.

Age-friendly cities and communities are designed to meet the needs of the wide diversity of older people, promote their health, autonomy, inclusion and contributions in all areas of community life, respect their decisions and lifestyle choices, and anticipate and respond flexibly to ageing-related needs and preferences.

*Source: National Programme for age-friendly cities and communities. A Guide. World Health Organisation

2.2 Impacting Policy Areas

Given the cross-cutting nature of Age Friendly work, it is recognised that many policy areas and priorities are impacted on in order to develop an Age Friendly society.

The Age Friendly Strategy and Action Plan needs to connect with other strategies and policies so that it is supported by a wide range of organisations and that they consider the needs of older people in everything they do.

This section of the Age Friendly Strategy considers some key policies and strategies relevant to Mid and East Antrim, while recognising that the Age Friendly Strategy and Action Plan will impact across a much broader policy agenda at regional level and beyond.

The policies outlined below provide a sample of the wider policy environment across both Mid and East Antrim and NI.

The sample illustrates the all-embracing nature of Age Friendly work, its ability to impact across policy areas and the value of collaboration in programme development and implementation.

The Age Friendly strategy and action plan for Mid and East Antrim, by aligning with both the WHO domains and the Mid and East Antrim Community Plan, will ultimately contribute to a wide range of policy objectives and Programme for Government outcome areas.

2.3 World Health Organisation Age Friendly Communities Framework

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Age Friendly Communities framework comprises eight domains to address in order to improve structures and services to meet older people's needs and those of an ageing population.

The Framework was developed by the WHO in consultation with older people and is evidenced based to support healthy and active ageing, supporting organisations to make their areas and communities good places to grow old in.

The eight domains are interlinked to some degree and, by identifying and addressing barriers to the wellbeing and participation of older people, they cover all aspects of community life to be considered in developing plans and projects.

These include:

  • Outdoor spaces and buildings
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Social Participation
  • Respect and social inclusion
  • Civic participation and employment
  • Communication and information
  • Community support and health services

These domains are cross-cutting in nature, as is the Age Friendly concept itself, and designed to help to identify and address barriers to the wellbeing and participation of older people.

The Framework recognises that Age Friendly environments are created through the development and promotion of accessible, inclusive, safe and supportive communities which provide people-centred services.

They are communities where age is not a barrier to living well and where the environment, activities and services support and enable older people.

These contributions can only be achieved if the health and participation of older people is encouraged and promoted – implementing an Age Friendly agenda recognises the crucial role older people play in their communities through a variety of forms which can include paid or volunteering work, sharing of experience and knowledge.

2.4 Programme for Government, NI Executive

The Programme for Government Draft Outcomes Framework 2021 contains nine strategic outcomes which an integrated Age Friendly strategy and action plan can play an active part in contributing to, including the following:-

  • We have an equal and inclusive society where everyone is valued and treated with respect
  • We all enjoy long, healthy, active lives
  • We have a caring society that supports people throughout their lives
  • Everyone feels safe – we all respect the law and each other

Older people are identified as a priority, the framework recognising the need to consider the health and social care needs of an ageing population, promote positive attitudes to older people and tailor support to enable them to enjoy better health and active lifestyles.

Other relevant action areas include:

  • Promoting positive attitudes towards mental health and wellbeing
  • Address issues that lead to inequality and disadvantage in terms of health and healthcare
  • Tackling issues that lead to inequality and disadvantage in terms of welfare and poverty, and providing support where it is needed in both urban and rural communities

The multiplicity of outcomes and priorities applicable to the Age Friendly strategy and action plan illustrate the cross-cutting nature of the topic and its impact across a wide range of sectors and strategic priorities, highlighting value of a partnership approach in project development and delivery.

2.5 Active Ageing Strategy
(Department for Communities November 2020)

“Our vision is one of Northern Ireland being an age friendly region in which people, as they grow older, are valued and supported to live actively to their fullest potential; with their rights respected and their dignity protected.”

The Active Ageing Strategy seeks to transform attitudes to, and services for, older people.

It aims to increase the understanding of the issues affecting older people and promote an emphasis on rights, value and contribution.

It recognises the positive contribution older people make to society and seeks to provide an active ageing framework which welcomes and values older people as diverse individuals with their own views, experience, values, beliefs and rights to inclusion and equality.

It recognises that the number of older people in Northern Ireland is increasing and will continue to do so.

The strategy aims to provide a focal point for positive policies towards older people across government, recognising that the issues facing older people are cross cutting in nature.

As a cross-cutting Executive Strategy, it is reliant on contributions from a number of departments, as reflected in its identified outcomes as follows:

  1. Older people live independently for as long as they can, free from poverty and in suitable, safe homes
  2. Older people are involved in their family and community and in civic life
  3. Older people are healthier for longer
  4. Older workers remain in employment for as long as they wish or need to
  5. Older people participate in cultural, educational and physical activity
  6. Older people’s dignity and human rights are effectively safeguarded

2.6 Making Life Better 2013 -2023: Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

Making Life Better is the strategic framework for public health designed to provide direction for policies and actions to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Northern Ireland and to reduce health inequalities.

The strategy has set the following vision and aims:-

“Through strengthened co-ordination and partnership working in a whole system approach, the framework will seek to create the conditions for individuals and communities to take control of their own lives and move towards a vision for Northern Ireland where all people are enabled and supported in achieving their full health and wellbeing potential.

The aims are to achieve better health and wellbeing for everyone and reduce inequalities in health.”

Key thematic areas such as “Creating the Conditions” and “Empowering Communities” seek to address the wider structural, economic, environmental and social conditions impacting on health at population level, and within local communities.

“Developing Collaboration” considers strengthening collaboration for health and wellbeing at regional and local levels. In particular, an Age Friendly society will benefit from the following themes and outcomes:-

Theme: Equipped Through Life

Through outcomes relating to life-long learning and participation and healthy active ageing, this theme includes initiatives which encourage and engage people at any age in social, cultural, sport and leisure activities, impacting on both physical and mental health and wellbeing, as well as on such issues as creativity, social inclusion, and good relations.

Actions can also support inter-generational working.

The strategy recognises that participation in such interests offers lifelong enjoyment and fulfilment and is an essential part of healthy living.

In addition, it notes the value of volunteering which benefits individuals, communities and wider society with the potential to build capacity, capability and self-esteem in the young, and also promote social inclusion and intergenerational activity.

Theme: Empowering Communities

This theme seeks to promote healthy and thriving communities at local level, with a particular focus on disadvantaged areas, through

  • maximising collaboration to tackle determinants of health
  • increasing access to and use of sports, arts and other leisure programmes
  • maximising land/green space/woodlands use at local level to promote outdoor activities
  • increasing access to public facilities for use by the local community

2.7 Commissioner for Older People NI (COPNI) Corporate Plan 2022 – 2024

The COPNI corporate plan has been developed in the knowledge that NI has a growing population of older people and heightened life expectancy.

Under the Overarching Priority of Tackling Ageism, COPNI has established six priority issues:

  1. Better Health and Social Care
  2. Impact of Covid 19: Call for a public enquiry into care homes
  3. Affordable energy
  4. A Programme for Government that prioritises older people
  5. Loneliness and Social Isolation
  6. Crime Against Older People

2.8 Northern Area Loneliness Framework 2021 (NHSCT)

This framework for tackling loneliness and social isolation across the generations was produced by the Health and Wellbeing Manager Lead for Loneliness and Social Isolation in the Northern Trust.

It notes that loneliness has been recognised as a public health priority with damaging effects on health and wellbeing.

The framework takes the view that tackling loneliness is most effective when delivered in a strategic partnership approach and that this will require innovative and imaginative approaches.

“Whilst ‘loneliness’ and ‘social isolation’ are often used interchangeably they do not mean the same thing although isolation is frequently but not always a trigger for loneliness.

They are two distinct concepts and initiatives should not be designed to address social isolation and loneliness but rather one or the other.” Northern Area Loneliness Framework

The establishment of the Loneliness Networks within the Northern area are cited as examples of good practice.

The framework identifies ten priority areas for action, including: Reducing the stigma of loneliness; Creating all-inclusive environments; Promoting health wellbeing and confidence; Removing barriers to participation; Volunteering and Progressing Loneliness Networks.

These highlight the importance of working with NHSCT and its partners in progressing both the framework and the emerging strategy and action plan for Mid and East Antrim.

The Northern area loneliness framework also has much in common with the WHO Age Friendly domains, including recognising that older people should be able to work for as long as they want to promote their wellbeing and maintain a good standard of living and that they have a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience to share.

2.9 Mid and East Antrim Community Plan

‘Putting People First’ is the community plan for Mid and East Antrim Borough for the 2017 – 2032 timeframe and following review in 2022 identifies four key themes:

  • Tourism and the Economy
  • Good Health and Wellbeing
  • Progress in Education and Employment
  • Community Safety and Cohesion

Within the community and cohesion theme, the key strategic priority is to ensure that our older people live healthy, active lives in their community.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council recognises there are particular challenges faced by its older people and their families, and many issues, such as transport, participation and access to services (particularly for rural communities) are cross-cutting in nature.

In addition, the demographics of the borough are recognised: Census 2021 data calculates the Mid and East Antrim population aged 65+ at 19.7% compared to a NI average of 17.1% with the 65+ age group experiencing a 1.6% population increase from 2015.

Community Planning provides a valuable platform for Council (as lead partner in community planning) to plan and promote activities, including joint working with Community Planning partners to ensure best use of resources and alignment of outcomes.

Responding to the borough’s ageing population is identified as a strategic priority within the Community Plan and has included progress towards making the borough Dementia Friendly as a key priority.

This includes plans to roll out Dementia Friendly Town training and connect dementia groups in towns and villages throughout the Borough.

Through its commitment to an Age Friendly strategy and Action plan, Council is best positioning the borough to provide environments and opportunities for its older residents to have meaningful engagement with valuable contributions for individual, family and wider community benefit.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s vision is that of adopting the role of civic facilitator of the Age Friendly strategy and Action plan.

Council recognises the importance of co-design and co-delivery of the strategy by older people, as well as statutory agencies and organisations in the community, voluntary and private sectors all of which have a role in supporting older people.

This would involve Council convening an Age Friendly Affiliation with representation from statutory, voluntary and community sectors to implement the Age Friendly strategy and action plan.

By providing a framework for collaboration on Age Friendly actions, the action plan recognises the work undertaken to date with the Borough’s older citizens through the Community Plan as well as organisations such as Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP).

This is an established age sector network of more than ten years’ standing.

As such, Council, through the Age Friendly Affiliation will work closely with MEAAP and other stakeholders as equal partners to ensure coordination and added value.

2.11 Mid and East Antrim Ageing Well Model

This is a Council-led partnership to obtain services for Ageing Well in the borough.

The model is based on a community planning led partnership approach to support and promote longer, independent and quality living for older people.

It supports positive ageing with assistance, where ‘our older people are active, respected and supported in their community’.

The Ageing Well Model is an evolving model and requires that partners continue to work together and also continue to engage with older people in the local community to identify and meet needs using approaches which are both innovative and responsive.

The Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership are currently delivering this contract on behalf of Council.

Through the Ageing Well Model, MEEAP currently provides the following services:

Good Morning Telephone Calls

A telephone support scheme which allows for daily contact:

  • The telephone support scheme also promotes key health messages, raising awareness and promoting healthy lifestyle choices
  • Referring Elderly People to Relevant Programmes
  • Progression strategies are in place, both to reduce the number of telephone calls provided (i.e. from five days a week, down to one or two phone calls a week) and exit from the service by supporting and linking elderly people to other community activities and programmes.

Handyman Service

  • The Handyman service supports older people to remain in their homes by completing necessary, small maintenance jobs
  • This can include an odd jobs service such as path clearing, decorating, general maintenance and minor works.

Home Security

  • A Home Security Scheme which includes home safety checks, provision and installation of equipment i.e locks, security lighting and other appropriate security devices
  • A home security calendar has been produced to provide older people with home safety tips.

Community and Social Engagement

  • Promoting and supporting volunteering opportunities for older people and providing a link to support groups
  • Providing training and ongoing technical support that encourages older people to use information and communication technologies such as mobile telephones, internet-enabled TVs and computers
  • Mid and East Antrim Council will continue to work collaboratively with the Agewell partners to ensure that our older people continue to be supported and that they receive the services that they need.
    With 18% of the Borough’s current population being 65 and over it is vital that the Ageing Well Model continues to provide for our older people.

3. The journey so far

The Age Friendly Strategy, alongside our Community plan, will build upon the existing work in the sector and the solid foundation of existing relationships, partnerships and programmes already in place to further its aspiration of becoming an Age Friendly Borough where citizens have opportunity to live, long, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Notable achievements to date include working with MEAAP and the Loneliness Network to provide support to the borough’s older residents, including during the pandemic.

This work has been vital in developing an Ageing Well model for the Borough and has highlighted the benefits of partnership working to encourage innovative service development and delivery.

Through MEAAP, Community Planning has actively supported and resourced an Ageing Well model, engaging with older people in a variety of ways to reduce isolation and promote health and wellbeing.

Through practical support such as Good Morning calls, Handyman service and home security measures, the Ageing Well model has impacted positively on the wellbeing of the borough’s older people.

MEAAP has also facilitated community engagement and activities such as Inter-generational Parliaments funded by NIHE which provided a platform for discussion and development of community connections.

This grass roots engagement further highlights the benefit of a community planning led partnership model of delivery.

Continuous Improvement Cycle

So far we have

  • Launched both Chatty cafés and benches alongside MEA Loneliness Network
  • Assisted the consultation process for Department for Communities (DfC) Active Ageing Strategy, Department for Infrastructure (Dfi) Concessionary Fares Review and Age NI Pensioner’s Parliament
  • Facilitated bookings for several Council events for those not on-line
  • Delivered Positive Ageing Month
  • Established MEA Age Friendly Internal Working Group, delivered Awareness Training to Group and completed Service Self-Assessments with recommendations made.
  • Facilitated Age Friendly events such as Tea Dances, Movie Screening MEA Age Friendly_Strategy & Action Plan Consultation 2024 16
  • Provided advice to residents and made referrals to partner agencies
  • Developed Age Friendly Awareness Reflective Training/Toolkit with MEA Agewell Partnership
  • Facilitated bookings for several Council events for those not on-line
  • Met with Commissioner for Older People NI Eddie Lynch
  • Promoted kindness post box project alongside MEA Loneliness Network

The process of developing an age friendly society is one of a cycle of continuous improvement.

An effective Age Friendly strategy and action plan will provide older people and their stakeholders with the tools needed to tackle issues associated with growing older, better enabling them to play a full role in society where their contributions are recognised and valued.

This includes older people being empowered to participate in community life through removal of barriers and making meaningful contributions to decision making about issues which impact them.

Development and implementation of an action plan will better enable service providers to respond to the needs of older people and improve access to services through directing resources and adopting Age Friendly practices to delivery.

Key to the success of this strategy, however, is monitoring and review.

By evaluating outcomes, measuring progress and identifying gaps, the strategy will remain nimble and relevant to the overarching vision of growing an age friendly society.

4. Process and Implementation

4.1 Strategy Development Process

The diagram below outlines the approach undertaken in development of the Age Friendly strategy and action plan for MEABC to ensure a user informed process:

Stage 1
Project Planning Meeting, March 22

Agreement on:
Assigment timeframe
Consultee Lists
Assignment approach
Consultation materials

Stage 2

Establishing the baseline

Survey with older MEA residetns
Council officers

Service providers

Stategic Context
World Health Organisation
MEA Community Plan

Stage 3
Completion of baseline assessment report December 2022

Survey analysis
Stakeholder analysis
Prioritise actions

Stage 4
Formation of Age Friendly Affiliation November 2022

Develop and implement Age Friendly Strategy & Action Plan for MEA
Affiliation workshop in preparation for Age Friendly Strategy Public Consultation
8-wee public consultation

Stage 5a
3-year Age Friendly Strategy June 2024

Action plan
Indicators and outcomes
Delivery partners identified

Stage 5b
Annual review of Action Plan for delivery of Strategy June 2025

Annual review of Action Plan
Indicators and outcomes
Delivery partners

4.2 Implementing the Strategy

Council’s role in strategy implementation is that of civic facilitator, co-ordinating Age Friendly actions through a multi-agency Affiliation.

Whilst this may result in Council having the role of chair or co-chair of the Affiliation, it will not be the sole delivery body and will work with all members as equal partners with responsibility for making an Age Friendly borough possible.

The action plan underpinning the strategy is the key driver for establishing commitment to an Age Friendly borough from a range of local and regional organisations and agencies and for collectively delivering improvements in the provision and co-ordination of services to support older people in response to local needs.

The action plan will be a collaborative and responsive process subject to ongoing reflection, review by the Affiliation itself and with input from older person engagement and, as necessary, adaptation.

The Age Friendly Affiliation

Creating Age Friendly communities involves older residents, local groups, community and voluntary sector, health partners, statutory agencies and businesses working together.

The role of the proposed Age Friendly Affiliation is that of directing the Age Friendly agenda across Mid and East Antrim, taking ownership of the Age Friendly strategy and action plan.

This model provides for all stakeholders in the Age Friendly sector to combine their collective skills, experiences and energy in taking forward Age Friendly actions in a strategic and co-ordinated manner, avoiding duplication and adding value to the sector at every opportunity.

Terms of Reference will establish clear roles and responsibilities of members and be subject to review within the period of the action plan.

Implementation will also be in line with Mid and East Antrim’s Community Plan to ensure consistency with Community Planning outcomes; as far as possible indicators will reflect those used for measuring Community Plan progress.

Regular consultation with stakeholders including PHA and NHSCT in addition to older people themselves (for example via MEAAP and an Older Persons Forum) will be undertaken to ensure ownership of the strategy and action plan, affording the ability to address any issues which may arise during implementation.

Regard will also be taken of any work being undertaken at a regional level which can provide direction, consistency and opportunities for collaboration that will ultimately ensure the best local decisions and maximise resources for local delivery outcomes.

The strategy and action plan process commenced with a baseline assessment in order to understand the current situation and identify those areas where future resources and energy should be focused.

This baseline assessment considered the eight World Health Organisation (WHO) Age Friendly domains (see below), consulting with older people and stakeholders across the public, community and voluntary sectors with a remit/responsibility for older people in addition to a review of both the policy and socio-economic environment. A baseline assessment is fundamental to developing an Age Friendly model, guiding actions, informing service delivery and supporting partnership working over the coming years.

5. Baseline Report Summary

The Age Friendly Strategy has been informed by robust consultation which has involved older people organisations with an Age Friendly remit and/or working with older people and MEABC officers.

It included a survey (circulated in electronic and hard copy) to older people across the borough in addition to stakeholder organisations and groups across June - August 2022.

The survey was an opportunity to identify key issues facing older people and how best actions can be developed and delivered to address these and engage those most in need.

It is noted that during the consultation timeframe concerns in relation to cost of living were growing.

The consultation informed the development of a baseline report which accompanies this strategy and action plan; key findings for each WHO Age Friendly domain are summarised below and further developed in the baseline report.

Outdoor Spaces and Buildings

In general respondents reported feeling safe about leaving their homes and spending time in outdoor parks and open spaces while public buildings and their staff were viewed positively, in terms of both helpfulness and accessibility.

Consultation informing this domain identified accessibility and safety issues to be addressed, such as cars parking on pavements and pavements in need of maintenance.

While it was considered that there are good levels of accessible outdoor places in the Borough, these could be improved through increased provision of accessible toilets and seated outdoor areas.

Additional actions can include accessibility audits/walks combined with resources such as the Flush App (online toilet finder tool) with results mapped online for residents and visitors to assist in planning journeys and activities.

Areas for action also included addressing a lack of disabled spaces for parking, while concern was also expressed about levels of anti-social behaviour in public areas which can prove intimidating for older people.


Access to services by rural communities as a priority was highlighted, particularly by stakeholder consultation.

Aligned to this, survey responses found that more information on Community Transport would be welcomed while also expressing the view that public transport links were poor outside of the main towns in the Borough.

Scope for an initiative such as volunteer driver scheme was also put forward as an action to address transportation challenges among older people.


There is much good practice underway currently under this domain, with high levels reported for older people feeling safe both in the home and locality.

In addition, almost three quarters of respondents stated they have neighbours who can be contacted in an emergency. Accessibility in the home was reported to be very good among baseline respondents.

Actions under this domain should seek to build on support already available such as MEAAP’s Handyman scheme and MEABC’s Energy Efficiency advice service.

These services are still very much in demand, as reflected by consultation identifying that awareness raising is needed in relation to home maintenance or safety adaptions sources of support.

In addition, responses to the baseline found serious concerns among older people about heating their home and noted demand for advice on making the home more energy efficient, reflective of the current cost of living crisis.

Social Participation

Encouraging levels of community engagement and social participation were recorded across the Borough with strong support for participation opportunities such as luncheon clubs and Good Morning services.

This highlights the point that sustaining such services is key to social participation.

Consultation also found scope to develop more opportunities for older people to become more involved in community life.

This could take the form of Age Friendly Ambassadors or Champions, roles which enable the individual to commit what time they wish to the role and may compliment work already underway in this area.

Aligned to this, the need to address venue accessibility was noted, while other challenges to participation included not being aware of activities, timing of activities and mobility/health problems.

These demonstrate the need for service providers to view activity provision through an Age Friendly lens in order to ensure that older people have every opportunity for social participation.

Respect and Social Inclusion

Consultation found that promotion of inter-generational activities should be undertaken in pursuit of this domain objective, building on work already carried out through bodies such as Linking Generations and MEAAP.

This will enable greater value to be placed on the input/contribution of older people, portraying them in a positive light - an area in need of action as identified by baseline consultation.

This could include actions which provide greater opportunity for older people to share their skills and experience (also cited under Civic Participation and Employment) and could include roles outlined above such as Age Friendly Ambassadors or Champions.

Respect and social inclusion can be achieved through more proactive consultation by both public bodies and community and voluntary groups on the needs of older people, also identified as an area of action by feedback informing the baseline with respondents again stressing the importance of not relying on online communication and the value of in-person contact.

Council already undertakes annual pop-up events which have proved popular and provide a further opportunity to both raise awareness of council services and develop personal connections with beneficiaries, such as older people and their families.

Civic Participation and Employment

Scope under this theme exists to promote participation in civic activities and community connections, which can include a greater awareness of volunteering opportunities for older people and celebrating volunteers.

This is supported by the finding that older people are keen to share their skills and knowledge, opening up potential actions in this field of participation.

Increased engagement and consultation by public bodies with older people to hear their views was highlighted, with digital exclusion being considered a risk to older people - almost half of respondents were of the view that too many services and activities are online which can result in many not being aware of opportunities as a result.

In terms of sustaining the sector, there are concerns around succession planning for groups and attracting new members with many respondents stating that they would not like to join a local group/ Age Sector network to represent older people or become more involved in local groups and committees.

Communication and Information

The baseline survey found that almost one fifth of those responding do not use online services, highlighting the importance of ensuring ongoing accessibility for non-internet users to avoid the threat of digital exclusion.

The importance of non-online information sources, such as a “one stop shop” central information site/point where all relevant information could be co-ordinated was suggested as a consideration under this domain.

Given the strategy’s role in promoting an Age Friendly society and working practices, this accessibility should be taken into consideration in development of any Age Friendly communication strategy and action plan.

Ongoing work in relation to internet safety and support to address the threat of scams delivered by MEAAP (with Community Planning Partnership support) was considered to be very effective in the baseline report, highlighting the importance of continuing such work and recognising the potential of initiatives such as MEAAP’s “My Easy App” in building digital skills and confidence with scope to link with other providers, including Council.

Community Support and Health Services

Feedback in relation to issues such as healthy eating were encouraging; however, a lack of affordable health and fitness programmes/activities for older people was identified as an area for action to support greater participation in physical activity classes.

Concerns were also noted in relation to health and community service facilities not generally being considered to be fully accessible for older people.

Consultation informing the baseline identified scope to improve access to information on community and health services for health and wellbeing, including awareness of home care services in the Borough.

Work in this area should also recognise the role of MEAAP as an established age sector network and delivery body for the IMPACTAgewell community development integrated care project in addition to the Community Navigator project which includes a signposting service.

What Does This Tell Us?

The baseline report reflects many of the issues identified by the Commissioner for Older people in NI as priorities across Mid and East Antrim, highlighting the importance of partnership working and collaboration to share best practice from across the Borough and beyond.

In summary, the key findings identified from the baseline consultation and strategy development process can be summarised as follows:

  • It is recognised that there is much good practice already underway across the borough which should be supported and enhanced, avoiding duplication of energy and resources
  • Succession planning will need to be addressed in order to support Age Friendly groups and sustain the sector
  • Ensuring access and participation by older people in rural communities is key in building an Age Friendly society in Mid and East Antrim
  • Transport and access to services impacts many of the identified issues, in particular health and community services
  • More robust and meaningful consultation with older people is required to inform both policy and project development
  • Older people have much to offer society and are willing to share their skills and experience; these contributions should be recognised and encouraged, including through inter-generational work
  • Many issues identified are cross cutting in nature, impacting on several thematic areas and, therefore, requiring input from a range of sectoral partners – Community Planning can be a conduit for this work.

6. Action Plan

Creating Age Friendly communities involves older residents, local groups, community and voluntary sector, health partners, councils and businesses working together.

In Mid and East Antrim, an Age Friendly Affiliation has been formed with partners from different sectors with different expertise including older people’s representatives, community groups and statutory agencies.

It is likely that the Affiliation will continue to grow as more organisations see the value of working together to make life better for older people.

The work of the Age Friendly Affiliation is funded through the Public Health Agency, which supports an Age Friendly Co-ordinator who is based in Mid and East Antrim Council.

During 2022/23 research was carried out with older persons to identify what makes Mid and East Antrim a great place to grow old in.

We spoke to a range of older people in our towns and villages and also carried out desktop research into what has worked well in age friendly communities.

We asked our Age Friendly Partners to share examples of good practice.

Themes have been aligned with those identified by the WHO, namely:-

  • Respect and Social Inclusion
  • Social Participation
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Civic Participation and Employment
  • Communication and Information
  • Community Support and Health
  • Services
  • Outdoor Spaces and Public Buildings

The Age Friendly Affiliation came together during a workshop to reflect on the information gathered.

As we learned what matters most to local people or where they would like to see greatest improvement, we drafted, consulted and refined the strategy and action plan, cross cutting themes and actions.


The Action Plan serves as an implementation tool in establishing Mid and East Antrim as an Age Friendly Borough.

Implementation, monitoring and review

The Age Friendly Affiliation will provide strategic direction and leadership in the delivery of the action plan.

The Action plan for the Age Friendly Affiliation recognises the work and contribution of MEAAP and others in promoting an Age Friendly Borough in Mid and East Antrim - through the Age Friendly Strategy and associated action plan, the Age Friendly Affiliation aims to work in partnership with all stakeholders to add value to existing work in the sector, avoid duplication of energy and resources and recognise the experience and expertise which already exists within the borough.

This Age Friendly Strategy and action plan is based on what local people told us matters most in their lives.

The Affiliation is committed to continuing to engage with people in a meaningful way so that what they say helps shape how we deliver the actions in the action plan.

To enable the action plan to reflect and align with regional priorities and changing local circumstances in terms of both resources and older peoples’ needs, it is proposed that consultation on intended actions is undertaken on an annual basis.

This will allow for ongoing engagement and the practical review of actions and ensure that resources and energies are directed towards those outcomes that have priority and are achievable within any given twelve-month period.

The following pages provide a number of action plans, containing various levels of detail, namely;

  • A final draft co-designed year 1 action plan – comments are invited on the content of this particular plan which will come into effect from 30 June 2024
  • A draft year 2 action plan – this is for information only and illustrates what actions considered necessary from the findings of the baseline assessment that remain outstanding could be taken forward in the second 12-month period.
    The year 2 action plan will not be confirmed prior to review by the Age Friendly Affiliation in line with the continuous improvement cycle
  • A draft year 3 action plan - this is for information only and similarly will be subject to review by the Age Friendly Affiliation to ensure that actions identified remain fit for purpose.


Action Plan (draft working document) 2024-2027

Year 1 - THEME: Transport

Transportation, including accessible and affordable public transport, is a key issue for people in later life.

People’s ability to move about in their locality will impact on their participation in and access to services.

Transport infrastructure and services are integral to creating an Age Friendly Community.

Achievements to Date - Building on Foundations

While the baseline report found that public transport was viewed positively in terms of both safety and easy to find information, there is scope for improvement on timetabling and routes.

The baseline also identified a trend across the borough toward using one’s own transport among those responding.

Issue identified

How the Age Friendly Affiliation might achieve this

Indicators Outcomes
Access to services, including rural communities

Share information and undertake a mapping exercise to see what public and community transport is available and where.

Focus on engagement work, exploring how to add value to existing transport provision and work in partnership to address gaps.

Support community transport organisations to build capacity.

Information sharing and mapping exercise in borough undertaken.

Older persons benefit from integrated, accessible and sustainable transport.

Older persons are able to participate meaningfully in community life.

Year 1​ - THEME: Housing

Safe, good quality homes are integral to maintaining and supporting health and wellbeing and community connections.

This requires provision of housing to enable people to grow older in comfort and safety in the community of their choice, supported by co-designed health and well-being solutions.

Achievements to Date - Building on Foundations

Support for home safety and security schemes has impacted positively on older people as evidenced during consultation on the baseline report.

Projects such as the Handyman service delivered by MEAAP, NIHE Energy Advice Line, AgeNI Independent living advice and Volunteer NI warm space initiative illustrate the work underway to date under the Housing domain and highlight the need to avoid duplication/displacement.

These schemes should continue, especially given the borough’s ageing population and provide a framework for further work on home safety and energy efficiency given current cost of living challenges, building on work undertaken through the Affordable Warmth Scheme, NIFRS smoke alarm checks and Council’s Energy Efficiency Advice Service.

Issue identified

How the Age Friendly Affiliation might achieve this

Indicators Outcomes
Home energy costs/ cost of living concerns

Explore partnership Initiative to connect older people to range of services to support them to make their home more energy efficient.

% increase in uptake of energy efficiency advice

% increase in uptake of grant schemes

Older persons are supported to live independently in their own homes for longer.

Home maintenance and safety

Explore partnership initiative to better connect older people to range of services which can support them to make their home safe.

% increase in uptake of home safety visits

% increase in uptake of Agewell Handyman and home security scheme.

Older persons are supported to live independently in their own homes for longer.

Year 1​ - THEME: Civic Participation and Employment

Age Friendly communities provide opportunities for people in later life to continue to contribute to their communities.

Those options can include community and local based interventions to engage the ageing population such as volunteering, mentoring or employment.

Achievements to Date - Building on Foundations

Progress under this theme can be achieved through promotion of re-skilling and training opportunities currently available to older people and Council is already undertaking relevant actions such as the Economic Development Department’s digital and technical skills programmes.

The work of other agencies can also contribute to civic participation and employment e.g. promoting awareness of Libraries NI’s ICT resources (access, training and staff assistance).

Issue identified

How the Age Friendly Affiliation might achieve this

Indicators Outcomes
There is a need for an Age Friendly Alliance/Partnership to take ownership of the Age Friendly Agenda within Mid and East Antrim

Convene an Age Friendly Affiliation with representation from statutory, voluntary and community sectors to implement the strategy and action plan, including appointing Age Friendly champions/ambassadors across the borough.

All AF Affiliation members to work together to ensure full engagement and ownership and commit to actively participate to ensure action plan delivery.

Establish an Age Friendly Affiliation, develop Terms of Reference and a schedule of meetings.

All members to sign agreed Terms of Reference.

As we get older, we are heard, valued and respected and involved in decisions that affect us.

Year 1​ - THEME: Social Participation

Social participation is strongly connected to good health and wellbeing; it is important to enable people to feel connected and have a sense of belonging with the ability to maintain or establish supportive and caring relationships.

Enabling accessibility, particularly for those with mobility issues, is also key to supporting social participation.

Achievements to Date - Building on Foundations

Valuable progress has been undertaken to date in the form of Good Morning and luncheon clubs as participation tools in addition to initiatives such as Chatty Benches and Chatty Cafés.

The action plan is an opportunity to sustain and further develop these actions, recognising the impact they have had on our older population.

Issue identified

How the Age Friendly Affiliation might achieve this

Indicators Outcomes

Evaluation of existing initiatives such as Warm Centres, Kindness Post box, Chatty benches, chatty Cafes, chatty walks, especially in rural areas.

Mapping of current sites and initiatives.

Scheme evaluations and mapping exercises completed.

Our older people are able to participate meaningfully in community life through accessible and welcoming public spaces.


Share “See things from my age” resource to all Affiliation members to raise awareness of Age Friendly. Resource circulated to all members. Our older people are able to participate meaningfully in community life through accessible and welcoming public spaces.

Year 1​ - THEME: Respect and Social Inclusion

An Age Friendly community enables people of all backgrounds to actively participate and treats everyone with respect, regardless of age with intergenerational activities being one way for different generations to learn from one another and develop connections.

Achievements to Date - Building on Foundations

Inter-generational work provides a valuable mechanism for inclusion and building respect across generations. Initiatives such as Linking Generations Intergenerational Parliaments (facilitated by MEAAP/NIHE) demonstrate the impact of this work and should continue to be supported as part of a social inclusion model.

Avoiding duplication by working in partnership with established bodies such as MEAAP will ensure best use of resources and maximising opportunities for building respect and social inclusion.

The important of meaningful consultation processes by public bodies with older people to identify need and identify the barriers to participation which face older people was identified through baseline consultation informing this domain.

Issue identified

How the Age Friendly Affiliation might achieve this

Indicators Outcomes
Hearing older people’s voices

Establish and promote an Older Persons’ Forum with representatives across the borough, supporting them to build capacity to represent the voice of older people.

Establishment of an Older Persons’ Forum, develop Terms of Reference and a schedule of meetings.

Our older people are heard, valued and respected plus involved in decisions that affect them.

Inclusion and respect

Develop a simple accreditation scheme for premises to become Age Friendly to include staff training, age friendly assessments, JAM cards and accessible toilet facilities.

Accreditation Scheme Developed with view to roll out in year 2. Older persons are able to participate meaningfully in community life.


Year 1 - THEME: Communication and Information

Staying connected with events and people and receiving relevant information to meet personal needs is vital for active ageing.

It is important that information is up to date, practical and accessible to all.

Achievements to Date - Building on Foundations

Ongoing work in relation to internet safety and support to address the threat of scams delivered by MEAAP with support from Community Planning was identified as being very effective in the baseline report.

It is important that such work continues, alongside Age Friendly awareness raising and facilitation with Council departments which has been delivered by MEAAP.