Positive Ageing Week 2021 – International Day of Older Persons – 1st October
Clann was established in January 2020 as an age-friendly housing body with a vision for “a society where everyone has a great place to live”, which it aims to deliver through the provision of “quality housing and services to enable people to create homes and thriving communities”.
Clann’s primary ambition is the delivery of enhanced age-friendly housing options for those aged 55 and over and the organisation is already delivering the largest age-friendly social housing development programme in Ireland. One of the main factors informing this programme is Ireland’s ageing population.
Positive Ageing Week is a vital initiative to focus the conversation and develop a more positive, realistic narrative about ageing that will help to shift attitudes. Positive Ageing Week 2021 (PAW) celebrates ageing and the contribution and agency of older people. The theme of PAW 2021 is Reconnecting Communities by Reframing Ageing.
2021 is the time to begin to reframe our attitudes to ageing as the United Nations celebrate a Decade of Healthy Ageing and begins a Global Campaign to Combat Ageism. PAW supports many community-based events, organised by groups or individuals as well as national events, in partnership with Age Action or not, to reflect the diversity of experience and situation of older people.
Clann is playing a vital role in shaping the conversation around positive ageing and appropriate housing in Ireland, enabling people to continue to live independently for as long as possible in their own homes and to maintain the connection they have with their community.
Under the umbrella of PAW, the United Nations General Assembly designated October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons. A key objective of International Day of Older Persons is to create awareness and empathy regarding the wellbeing of our older persons. The 2021 theme “Digital Equity for All Ages” affirms the need for access and meaningful participation in the digital world by older persons.
Recent reports by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) indicate that women and older persons experience digital inequity to a greater extent than other groups in society; they either lack access to technologies or are often not benefitting fully from the opportunities provided by technological progress.
The team at Clann are making considerable efforts at tackling digital inequity. Raising awareness of stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination associated with digitalisation, addressing these issues in the roll out of new digital systems. Clann places significant emphasis on the voice of residents and ensuring that the organisation delivers its service through a partnership approach.
Clann Residents Advisory Group
Consequently, in 2020 the Clann Residents Advisory Group (CRAG) was established, a partnership incorporating the residents’ voice and perspective into all areas of the organisation. CRAG meet monthly, through the power of video conferencing due to covid-19 restrictions, collaborating with Clann staff to help to shape policy, process and service delivery.
Clann has been busy listening to resident ideas and feedback, via CRAG meetings the group have been collaborating on the development of a new resident portal, an online platform that will allow residents to manage their tenancy, rent, repairs and other aspects of their housing needs. CRAG members have been instrumental in improving the development of the Resident Portal to ensure systems are inclusive.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, digital literacy has become much more important in addressing the problem of social isolation. A number of Clann schemes provide access to communal computers. Schemes like St. Josephs Court in Clifden, Galway have been facilitating Computer Literacy classes through the GRETB Moycullen Literacy Scheme Outreach.
Most of the St. Josephs Court residents who attend the classes are in the ‘over 70’ age bracket and had been advised by the government to limit their social interactions over the past 18 months. This created huge challenges for them as in many cases they lived alone away from family and friends.
Technology and social media have become a part of everyday life, and Anna Maria Nee, who facilitates the classes, has been providing a vital role in supporting the residents to increase their digital skills in order to stay connected. The classes have empowered residents to:
• stay in touch with the wider community and their family and friends
• keep up with the news and access information online
• shop for food, clothes, and other necessities during Covid-19
• enjoy their interests, hobbies and spiritual life through technology.
The residents have embraced the challenge of technology and have upskilled across a wide variety of technologies including:
• Facebook and Facetime
• Online grocery shopping
• PayPal and banking online
Each lesson is tailored to the individuals’ specific needs, Anna Maria personalises teaching plans for each resident who may have specific objectives in learning for personal development, and this changes regularly.
Anna Maria tells us “there are no barriers or limits to what people want to learn. Learning is a lifelong journey, and residents are embracing technology as part of the new way of life. Digital media has encouraged communication and socialisation for the residents of Clann, even if it has come about by a world pandemic”.
This amazing group of residents have embraced technology and adapted to the changing social climate despite the restrictions of Covid-19. While this particular class is currently only available to a small number of residents in a specific context, it is a highly successful model that the GRETB hope to replicate in other locations in West Galway. The methodology and implementation of the learning model reflects best practice in adult literacy provision.
For more information on upcoming digital learning programmes across Clann schemes, please contact your local scheme manager.
Mandy Stevenson, a Scheme Manager in Dundalk, spoke about International Day of Older Persons and Clann on Dundalk FM – listen here