Positive Ageing in London’s’s Overall Response to the London Recovery Board’s Mission statements for Consultation – arising from Conversations by PAiL’s experts and members with lived experience
Q1: Is there anything critical to London’s recovery missing from the current set of missions?
- Not all the missions have identified the current problems facing older Londoners and addressed these in terms of solutions. There’s a risk that older people needs may get side-lined. Feedback from PAiL has identified these areas
- There needs to be a coherent action plan across all the missions designed to improve the lives of older people post pandemic. Clear objectives for each area of the action plan for older people based on the problems that need to be solved and agreed ways to measure whether those objectives are being met.
- Given the potential contribution of older people to recovery in terms of the silver economy, volunteering etc then it’s important that measures are in place to boost the confidence of older people and feelings of safety eg. in public transport, workplaces, and public places.
Q2: What are the main issues/challenges that you, your sector and/or your members are facing (in the short, medium, and long term) in relation to London’s recovery?
In the short term
- A clear assessment of the impact of the pandemic on older Londoners with hard evidence of what’s changed. This evidence needs to include surveys, official data as well as the informed perspectives and interpretations of older people and their organisations. It also needs to be broken down across Boroughs.
- Identifying who are most vulnerable and at risk amongst older Londoners and ensuring support is available.
- A plan for addressing the problems faced by BAME seniors
- A clear plan across London for preparedness for a second wave winter pandemic including the care home sector.
- Immediate programme to ensure that 50 plus workers remain in work and don’t lose income and have the benefit of re-training and skills development.
In the medium and longer term
- Recovery for older people follows the good practice principles for older people’s needs produced by PAiL (https://pailondon.org.uk/2020/07/recovery-plan-for-older-londoners/)
- Financial support schemes in London to allow third sector organisations providing support and services for older people
- Ensuring that recovery plans across tall the missions assess the implications for older people but also mitigate the unintended consequences for older people.
Q3: What actions or interventions would address these issues/challenges? Which would have the most impact?
- Clear agreed prioritisation of the problems facing older Londoners in term of actions
- Each Mission to identify older peoples needs which can then inform a cross cutting older peoples recovery action plan.
- Clear governance mechanisms in place for the older peoples action plan to include a reference group made up of representatives of older people advocacy organisations
Q4: In five year’s time, which pieces of evidence would show that the mission(s) have been achieved?
- Measurement of success against each objective in an age action plan
- Demonstrable progress in London on all the age-friendly criteria for Age-Friendly Cities
Our Response To Good Work For All Londoners:
The mission statement raised the following points and questions to which our responses are below in italics :
Mission: “No Londoner, particularly those disproportionately affected by the pandemic or Brexit, is left without access to education, training or a job opportunity.”
This requires an acceptance of the fact that older people in London are already at a disadvantage – as over 50s make up a disproportionate number of the long term unemployed ( DWP) and that statistics drawn from Age UK plus previous Wise Owls, Wise Age and Third Age Employment Network research all indicate that it is increasingly difficult for older working people once out of work to find another full time job – and this increases with each year over 50 ( Age UK less than 10% of men over 55 get another full time job once unemployed) .
It should also be noted that older people, like younger under 25s have been impacted more than those in the main age working group ( 25-49) by COVID related redundancies and the loss of income by the self employed, and that as the support schemes are wound down that is likely to become worse.
Therefore it is to be hoped that there will be special consideration given , along with youth for support for over 50s. This 50+ support should be in terms of A) training in work to ensure they remain competitive, training for unemployed over 50s that is tailored to their needs. The case needs to be made to both the DWP for sufficient resources to be allocated to such specialist training which Wise Age among others have shown to be effective in getting 50% of unemployed over 50s back into employment or self employment and also to employers who have historically provided 50% less training to their over 50s staff than to younger staff.
This also requires apprenticeship schemes to be continued to be available for adults aged 50+ , something which has also provided to be beneficial to both older working age people and also employers such as local council and NHS apprenticeship providers in the past. As there are a high proportion of over 50s working in the NHS, in social care and in local authorities this would be of benefit to all concerned
We’ll need to work together so that: • Short term – all Londoners can access the support they need to gain good jobs • Medium term – rising levels of unemployment are reversed over the next two years •
The above responses should help address these 2 goals. In addition to achieve these goals it should be remembered that the silver economy or grey pound is key to restarting the economy and so older people’s concerns over their safety need to be addressed both in office, school and other enclosed work spaces and in public transport to get them to work . Older consumers often prefer to have the option of being helped by senior staff which is another reason that older workers and age diversity should be encouraged to be taken up by employers.
Long term – more working families are lifted out of poverty; the employment gap for vulnerable groups of people is reduced; and there are sufficient childcare places to support women in work.
In the long term there needs to be greater engagement with employers from all sectors and sizes and their networks to promote the proven benefits in increased productivity, profitability and reduced staff turn over to employers practising age diversity ( see McDonalds example). In particular the ageism which is prevalent in many recruitment agencies – which is regularly feed back to Wise Age and at PAIL meeting plus older peoples organisations who deal with the unemployed – needs to be addressed through education and information campaigns aimed at the predominantly young staff in the employment and recruitment sector which emphasise the benefits older workers and age diversity brings. It should also be noted that research post 2008 shows that employers retaining and employing seniors suitably trained helps increase the productivity and therefore recruitment of younger workers. Trade Unions need to be actively engaged in this work
Areas of focus might include: • Skills and training to support Londoners into new jobs, such as industry training and lifelong learning opportunities
See above, ensuring equal opportunities focusing on young and old
• High quality advice and support to get Londoners into work, such as support for newly unemployed adults. This requires more local authority and GLA support programmes and apprenticeship schemes and more emphasis on tailored local support provision via the DWP aimed at younger and over 50s clients
• Supporting living wage jobs and progression in employment Core Questions
• What do you think of this mission?
There is currently a lack of focus on the needs for an age diverse workforce and the requirements of an equal opportunity approach towards training and apprenticeships
• Is there anything critical to London’s recovery missing from this mission?
Yes more promotion of the benefits of age diversity to employers in all sectors. More tailored support at local level and for particular sectors – including the charity and voluntary sectors There needs to be a greater focus on inter- sectionality which understands that for those already disadvantaged by gender and / or ethnicity face even greater exclusion after 50 and it gets worse with each year of age
• What does this mean for you personally and for your community?
It means that older people especially those who are from BAME backgrounds and for those with health and disability issues are likely to be left behind in the recovery unless their needs are also understood and integrated into the solution. It should be remembered that where the older head of the household is unemployed it impacts on younger family members who are also likely to become or stay unemployed and lead to increased poverty and depression
• What actions or interventions would have the most impact?
Providing equal access to training and support for unemployed , workless plus those at work who are under 25 and those who are over 50 .
Promoting the benefits to employers of age diversity including increased productivity, profitability and staff morale
Supporting older people to become mentors and enablers of younger people within the workplace.
Support for business start ups and self employment advice and support , with access to funding for entrepeneurs of all ages. Drawing on older peoples business expertise to help others set up or re-start sustainable businesses
• How will we know that we’ve succeeded?
When there is greater provision of training and apprenticeships for under 25s and over 50s. When the levels of employment rise for youth and older workers
When more people of all ages are able to return or set up as self employed or better still small business owners•
Who has a role to play to meet this challenge?
The LRB/ GLA /London Councils, London boroughs, apprenticeship schemes ( including the NHS), voluntary, charitable organisations representing and helping younger, older and other disadvantaged groups locallt, employers from all sectors and their ntwroks, trade unions
Moderation points: 1. What can City Hall, employers or other organisations and communities do to help people back into work? For example: • Offer more apprenticeships, YES- for young and old
improve career offer
• Increase joint working between Job Centre Plus and local services YES with funding for training, work schemes and apprenticeships and geared to local needs and aimed at older and younger workers and those facing disadvantages due to ethnicity . and or ethnicity and or health conditions / disabilities
• Broaden the Adult Education Budget to widen access and eligibility, offer pre-employment training, support lifelong learning etc
Yes plus in work training and paid work schemes for all ages
• Actions to reduce the employment gap for vulnerable groups including women, BAME, disabled people.
YES AND FOR OLDER PEOPLE – WHERE INTERSECTIONALITY MEANS THAT AGE INCREASES EXCLUSION FROM EMPLOYMENT as older women, BAME communities and those with disabilities face even greater exclusion
Our Response to A Green New Deal
PAiL welcome this mission.
- There is evidence that green spaces have a positive effect on mental wellbeing.
- Reducing air pollution will improve the health of people with respiratory difficulties many of whom are older people
Evidence shows older Londoners are concerned about the safety of travelling on public transport post COVID which they are reliant on rather than walking or cycling or traveling by car. Whilst social distancing is in place then there are constraints on the capacity of public transport. To support a green economy and the needs of older people, some immediate actions are required for London’s public transport:
1. Improve public confidence in travelling by public transport in London through communicating safety provision
2. End the TfL suspension of free travel for over 60s before 9am
3. Priority given to those older people who require it at bus stops and queuing into tube stations
4. Engage with older people organisations in London on any route changes or major frequency changes
5. Ensure hospital transport is protected via bus routes
Our Response To Digital Access For All
- To ensure older people do not suffer from being unable to engage online and to improve the rates of older people being connected digitally
- The pandemic has vividly illustrated the plight of those who are not able to engage online and therefore excluded from vital information, social connections, and ability to do transactions and apply for jobs. There are mixed reasons for the lack of engagement – the lack of resources, fear of technology, and lack of skills
How to get there
- Continue to ensure that those who do not have online access received printed information about core information and services
- Ensure shops and public services have efficient phone systems to ensure people can ring with queries or to book services
- Local authorities to identify those who are digitally excluded which is causing problems and the barriers
- Provision of free Wi-Fi to those older people in need
- Provision of pay as you go handsets and tablets for those who do not have equipment
- Use mutual-aid hubs to act as digital befriending services to help older people get online
Our work with older Londoners at Positive Ageing in London included a meeting with over 70 older people before the Covid outbreak. At the end of the conference there were focus groups which discussed the issues surrounding digitalisation as it affects older people. These relate to both those older people ( especially poorer and very old and care home residents) who need support and training in using IT and that there should be a training the trainers programme for those dealing with older people ( care home workers, housing association and community centre workers) so that they can offer ‘silver surfer style support and training.
In addition there needs to be greater recognition that for many older and poorer people online and digital communications will exclude them and there must be more information offered by phone lines which are actually in operation , plus more written material distributed to older and vulnerable people’s homes as well as greater use of community radio and community TV
Our response to 15-minute cities –the city on your doorstep
The mission statement raised the following points and questions to which we have responded below in italics:
Mission: “Thriving, inclusive and resilient high streets and town centres in every London borough with culture, diverse retail and jobs within walking distance of all Londoners.”
Whilst being an admirable mission objective, there needs to be a recognition of the impact the Covid crisis has had on London boroughs’ town centres and the willingness or otherwise of Londoners to visit these centres. The response also needs to take account of the apparent approach by the GLA to reducing car journeys and increasing use of cycles as a means of transport which has the potential to impact negatively on older Londoners and in particular people with disabilities. Recognition is also needed of the reality that many town centres have been ravaged by a lack of adequate investment in infrastructure especially around maintenance of access routes including footpaths, bus routes and roads generally.
There is a real danger that, in reshaping local communities, greater emphasis may be placed on catering for the “younger generation” to take account of radical changes in the way they work and where they work, i.e. teleworking. Should this happen, the needs of older Londoners could be ‘crowded out’ as their needs might not be considered as being sufficiently significant in terms of the investments being proposed.
Given the foregoing, it is of paramount importance that the views of older Londoners are reflected in any/all future planning. To ensure this is done appropriately at a local level, there is a need for locally organised street audits to be carried out by older Londoners/age champions so that areas of both concern and good practice are highlighted in equal measure.
- regeneration of high streets need to be part of a local community
development strategy by each London Borough designed to ensure older people thrive
- Older people need to be involved in the co-design of
neighbourhoods/high streets when changes are being planned to ensure older
people’s needs are addressed
- High streets need to have the necessary amenities for older people
and areas for sitting.
We’ll need to work together to:
•Short term –enhance high streets including urban greening and cycling infrastructure, and new local civic and cultural infrastructure
Any short term plans need to take account of the state of local pavements as many are in a neglected state with potholes, cracks etc. In light of Covid, plans are progressing rapidly to increase the number of cycle lanes – there is emerging evidence that these are potentially to the detriment of older Londoners who do not use bicycles. The idea that London can transform itself to be like Holland or Denmark is fatuous and some new cycle lanes are now affecting bus shelters and the safety of their users.
It is essential that libraries and community venues etc., which have been closed due to COVID, should re-open with measures in place to ensure social distancing and hygiene measures can be maintained. Further, greater emphasis needs to be placed on the need to support local community groups to ensure amenities can function and to re-start volunteering by older people, something that has dropped off significantly since the pandemic.
•Medium term -business rates reform to enable high streets and town centres to thrive
In tandem with this aspiration, initiatives need to be taken to ensure there is better infrastructure, especially around provision of essential services such as access to public toilets for general use but especially for older Londoners. Age friendly audits need to be extended beyond physical issues to include assessment of amenities for older people in physical neighbourhoods. In other words, does a 15-minute walk to a neighbourhood allow one to visit a health centre, coffee shop, post office, local shops, banks, libraries etc.?
•Long term –in every London borough residents’ daily needs are met within a short walk or cycle ride
A laudable objective, which needs to recognise that older Londoners do not cycle as much as the younger demographic so greater emphasis should be put on ensuring streets and footpaths are safe in terms of condition, adequate lighting etc. Parks/green spaces should also take account of the needs of older Londoners who rely on them as a place to exercise by walking as opposed to cycling – Covid certainly led to parks and river walks being inundated with bicycles and which impacted negatively on walkers.
There can be no doubt that a real opportunity will be lost if the initiatives being proposed fail to address the importance of carrying out a cross London assessment of areas which lag in terms of being able to host a 15 minute city of benefit to older people’s needs.
Areas of focus might include:
•Road reallocations to support a shift to walking and cycling
Any reallocations should only be done after adequate consultations with local residents. This consultation could usefully be supported by drawing on the results of local street audits that are carried out by local residents, especially the older demographic. This ensures the Centre for Ageing Better mantra of “Ensuring that all older people are respected, listened to, and can contribute to decision making in the communities that they live”[i] gets the traction and attention it deserves in a meaningful manner.
•Piloting high street innovation zones including culture hubs and night-time enterprise zones
Arguably, any such developments should only proceed following impact assessments that ensure these areas are accessible for all visitors in terms of both entering such buildings and accessing them via public transport or on foot.
•What do you think of this mission?
The mission is laudable but would be vastly improved if there was a more holistic and strategic approach taken that would ensure any planning exploits what is arguably a one-off opportunity to shape London as an inter-generational age-friendly city.
•Is there anything critical to London’s recovery missing from this mission?
There is insufficient acknowledgement of the role older Londoners can play in shaping the recovery by utilising their knowledge and experience via direct involvement in planning new infrastructure through space sensitive initiatives such as street audits.
•What does this mean for you personally and for your community?
Older peoples’ needs could well be overlooked if there is not a sincere determination to take on board their legitimate concerns over the potential impact of infrastructural developments, e.g. new cycle lanes that do not take account of pedestrians who don’t cycle and who may need access to taxi vehicles that may no longer be able to pick them up from a ‘hailing’ position on a pavement.
•What actions or interventions would have the most impact?
Direct involvement of age friendly organisations and their constituent members, along with wider active citizens’ audits and responses, which are then taken on board and acted upon by all relevant local authorities.
•How will we know that we’ve succeeded?
When more people of all ages are able to safely and actively use their local communities and that the results of age friendly and citizens audits are incorporated into local and London wide plans.
•Who has a role to play to meet this challenge?
PAiL is in a strong position to help as it has measures in place to assist training up local age friendly champions to conduct local street audits.
Our Response To A Robust Safety Net
- To ensure that the local initiatives and infrastructure continues to help older people particularly those more at risk and vulnerable and provide strong supportive neighbourhoods.
- Local neighbourhoods may be harmed by the effects. As local food supplies cease with the ending of shielding then many new volunteers may go back to work reducing local capacity. Local charities are experiencing loss of income. Over 70s volunteers may be restricted in their previous volunteering work and the significant contribution they make.
How to get there
- Each London Borough to work to maintain local initiatives through support as part of a community development policy to protect neighbourhoods working with older people
- Re-purpose mutual aid groups to other urgent needs e.g. helping promote digital inclusion
- Review and share best practise across London on what worked well in local solutions
- Publicise the contribution of volunteering for older people through a Mayoral awards scheme
The lockdown exacerbated the problems of older people living in unsuitable accommodation. There have been problems of rent issues for some older people with private landlords . Immediate actions required include:
1. Ensure older private renters under threat are protected
2. Review the needs of older people in unsafe accommodation across London
3. Develop programmes of aids and adaptation where necessary
4. Support the development of building more suitable accommodation to support independent living for older people
Our Response To Better Health & Wellbeing
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of social care. There is a risk that there will not be enough social care workers in the near future for several reasons:
a. Social Care service provision relies on immigrants and new rules will soon apply
There are 232,000 jobs in adult social care in London*. 39% of the workforce are NOT British nationals*. Social care workers are not likely to qualify for a work visa under the new point-based immigration system that will come into force in January 2021.
b. There is no slack in the social care system
There are 18,000 vacancies at any time and 48,000 workers left in 2018/19*. The need for new staff is exacerbated by the the fact that until there is a vaccine for Covid-19, some staff will be off sick or self-isolating. If service-users – who are mainly frail, older people – do not receive the support they need, they can deteriorate rapidly, and could need hospital admission within days or even die.
Age-Friendly London Health and Social Care Domain working group
Response to London Recovery Board consultation on Health and Wellbeing Mission
What do you think of this mission?
We welcome this mission.
Is there anything critical to London’s recovery missing from this mission?
Having enough money to live on is essential for health and wellbeing.
Building community responses that enable people to feel supported and included.
What does this mean for you personally and for your community?
The sole emphasis of Covid-related treatment by the NHS has had a disproportionate effect on the health, wellbeing and quality of life of older people with the moratorium on elective surgery (joint replacements, cataracts) and supportive services such as podiatry.
We have concerns about the accelerated move to remote and virtual communication by default. Older people are less likely to be ‘online’. Those that do not have the equipment or lack IT fluency have been excluded from information and access to services.
There should be a push back on ageism and value put on a person rather than a chronological age.
We wish to make sure that the spirit of volunteer-led community support generated at local level including intergenerational approaches continues.
What actions and interventions would have the most impact?
- We need to always have the option of face-to-face health consultations.
- Promote the uptake of unclaimed age-related benefits with help to claim them as well as advertising the advantages of registering as ‘disabled’ as a gateway to extra resources.
- Promote physical activity to help older people regain any mobility they may have lost during lockdown restrictions.
- With 1:10 older people at risk of malnutrition and consequently at increased risk of infections, there is a need to evaluate the food parcel service, including getting feedback from recipients in case it needs to be re-instated. This is to ascertain that the contents met their nutritional needs and matched their cooking and eating skills.
- The requirement to wear face covering in shops and on public transport needs to enforced so older people can feel confident to venture out.
How will we know that we’ve succeeded?
Data used for evaluation includes social values and quality of life indicators.
Who has a role to play to meet this challenge?
We all do: the general public and individual citizens of all ages, private and statutory bodies as well as voluntary, community and faith groups; all working together in small localised hubs possibly within a Primary Care Network.