Event showcases approaches to ageing well

Interreg 2 Seas and Rother Voluntary Action logosALMOST 100 delegates signed up for the Innovations in Healthy Ageing conference at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill last month.

The event, which took place on Wednesday, October 19, brought together learning and new developments from the Healthy Ageing through Innovation in Rural Europe (HAIRE) Project to promote local approaches to ageing well.

In East Sussex, the HAIRE Project is being delivered in Robertsbridge and Rye by East Sussex County Council in partnership with Rother Voluntary Action (RVA).

Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health for East Sussex said: “When we talk about healthy aging, we’re trying to improve the quality of life so that those extra years can be lived in independence and enjoyment.

“It’s for the whole community to come together and look after people and it’s really important that we maintain our pubs, our shops, our village halls and all the services and groups that meet in those places to enable our communities to age well.”

New innovations showcased at the conference included a Life Transitions Service to help people prepare for changes in later life, an international design challenge aimed at bringing younger and older people together to improve the health of people and the planet, and a five-year Age Friendly Communities programme in Rother, led by Rother District Council in partnership with RVA.

During the conference delegates discussed the many factors that contribute to ageing well, including positive relationships across generations, meaningful roles in community life, and good physical and mental health.

Delegates also considered what life might be like in Rother in 2050, with developments such as electric self-driving community transport, people training and working into their seventies, and ‘smart homes’ that will monitor and respond to residents’ needs, and how these changes might shape peoples’ future later lives.

Samantha Williams, Chair of the conference and Assistant Director of Adult Social Care at East Sussex County Council, said: “HAIRE has given people the space to share, in their own words, how it feels to grow older in a rural community. It has used this rich information to encourage innovation and different ways of thinking about how people can be supported in ways that suit them.

“The conference showcased how commitment, passion and strong collaborative working can bring about positive and creative change, even during the challenges of the Covid 19 pandemic. The positive impacts of HAIRE are already evident and we are excited about what the future holds.”

There are several ways for residents to get involved.

Individuals who would like to be supported in preparing for later life, or who would like to be trained as a volunteer to help others prepare for older age, can contact the Life Transitions Service at lifetransitions@eastsussex.gov.uk.

People who would like to enter the community design competition to come up with an idea of how to bring younger and older people together to improve the health of people and the planet should contact Sue Dunkley at Sue.Dunkley@eastsussex.gov.uk.

More information about the Age Friendly Rother programme and how to get involved can be obtained by contacting Naomi Robinson at naomi.robinson@rva.uk.com.

The conference was held as part of the HAIRE Project, which is funded by Interreg 2 Seas and the EU’s European Regional Development Fund. It is led by the University of Exeter and has partners in England, France, Belgium, and The Netherlands.