Areas of Integrated Social Planning for Older People with and without a Disability

Table of Contents:

Scope of Planning

Social planning tor senior citizens as well as for citizens with disabilities can no longer be limited to specialised institutions and services for these groups ot people. Rather, it extends to all areas that promote or hinder individual life and social participation in the community. The target areas formulated for age- friendly and inclusive communities have considerable overlap. For example, Michell-Auli and Kremer- PreiB (2013, p. 15ff) identify six thematic areas for the development of age-friendly neighbourhoods: sensitivity for the needs ot old age and awareness of discrimination; supportive social infrastructure (contact and opportunities for encounter, neighbourhood help, civic involvement); a barrier-tree environment and accessible local supply; needs-oriented, low-barrier housing using new technologies; services that guarantee a mix ot informal and professional support; counselling close to the place of residence and from a single counselling centre. In comparison: A Livable Community for Adults with Disabilities is dehned by the National Council on Disability (2004, p. 9) in the US as one that:

  • • Provides affordable, appropriate, accessible housing
  • • Ensures accessible, affordable, reliable, safe transportation
  • • Adjusts the physical environment for inclusiveness and accessibility
  • • Provides work, volunteer, and education opportunities
  • • Ensures access to key health and support services
  • • Encourages participation in civic, cultural, social, and recreational activities.

Social planning for old age focuses on one or more of the following topics:

Raising awareness in neighbourhoods: To be appreciative and mindful with each other, especially in relationships among neighbours, protects against exclusion and identifies needs for help. However, attitudes and help among neighbours cannot be prescribed. But the awareness of their value can be increased and barriers to making contact can be reduced.

Volunteering: Especially in old age many people want to do voluntary work, others are looking for volunteers for joint activities or tor help in everyday life.

Accessibility: Socio-spatial environments and services in the community are barrier-free it they can be found, accessed, and used by potential users. When designing a barrier-free environment, potential movement, perception, communication, and cognitive impairments as well as the use ot aids by the persons concerned have to be considered.

Mobility: To what extent can people with mobility impairments safely reach the destinations relevant to them at the desired points in time and within a reasonable length of time? All types ot transport and the fact that many people with disabilities need personal assistance to move in traffic must be taken into account.

Housing: In addition to housing adaptation and the provision of affordable, appropriate, and barrier- free housing, this also includes the planning of alternative forms ot dwelling, such as shared housing and shared flats with assistance and care, as well as group homes and care facilities.

Support services: This includes above all assistance and care services, household-related services, and family support services in the disability sector. These services should be combined and work together with informal supporters to form a person-centred mix of support. The professional services also aim to relieve the burden on supporting relatives.

Social encounters and activities: Are there opportunities tor meeting and contact in the neighbourhood? Are activities offered by associations, sports clubs, educational institutions, libraries, churches, and other community organisations attractive, accessible, and usable for older people as well? To what extent are meeting places and activities open to people with disabilities? How can elderly people with and without disabilities easily and comprehensively inform themselves about activities for organising free time? To what extent are specific facilities necessary, such as day care, daytime options for people with disabilities or chronic mental illness, lunch, or dinner opportunities? Is it possible to open such facilities to other target groups?

Local supply and everyday services in the vicinity: It should be possible to buy goods and services tor daily or regular needs in accessible spatial proximity. Food shops, bakeries, restaurants, hairdressers, pharmacies, banks, and post offices are important meeting points in the neighbourhood.

Work and employment: Job opportunities in retirement are of interest to many senior citizens for financial reasons and partly because they wish to remain active.

Health and medical care: Are the medical care structures ot local medical practices, therapeutic services, and regional acute and rehabilitation clinics sufficiently available? Are these appropriate for people with various types of disabilities? Are therapeutic services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy available? Are there any local health promotion programs? What are the possibilities in the community to develop a health-promoting lifestyle?

End of life care: Supporting elderly people and their relatives at the end of life is the task ot palliative care. In addition to palliative medical and nursing care, it also includes psychosocial and spiritual support in the last phase of life. Out-patient and in-patient hospice services and support for mourners assume important functions in communities. But often these services are not prepared to work with persons with intellectual disabilities.

Counselling and information: Counselling services for support in old age or disability need to be coordinated. A counselling centre or information point should address all kinds of people in old age and their relatives. It should be easy to find, spatially accessible and have long opening hours. Counselling should not be distorted by specific interests of service providers, but it requires their cooperation as well as knowledge about the variety ot potential social and health benefits available.

Political participation: The participation of older people in the diversity of political decision-making processes in the community is an important goal of participation-oriented social planning.

Planning Areas

Planning projects cover planning areas ot different sizes. Social planning is the responsibility of cities and rural districts with their municipalities. This is the level at which the local political bodies make decisions and this is where the administrative responsibilities are usually located. The focus on neighbourhoods, by which we mean urban districts/quarters or rural communities, aims to ensure that the measures fit more precisely into the socio-spatial environment ot the citizens and are generated from there. In addition, social planning has also to consider the locations and catchment areas of services and supply areas that extend beyond the boundaries ot a neighbourhood.

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