Promoting Social Inclusion


 

Age Friendly
The Central Statistics Office has predicted that over the next 30 years, the number of people over the age of 65 in this country will double and the number over 80 will quadruple.  This change in our demographics has huge implications for policy formation and service delivery.

Where we live, the physical, social and cultural environment, impacts hugely upon how we live.  In an age friendly community, policies, programmes, services and infrastructure related to the physical and social environment are designed to enable older people to live in security, enjoy good health and continue to participate in society in a meaningful way.  An age friendly community benefits people of all ages.

The Age Friendly Cities and Counties (AFCC) Programme recognises the valuable role that older people can and are playing in shaping their communities for the better and facilitates their voice to be heard in key decision making processes.  It is part of a worldwide, World Health Organisation (WHO) inspired movement which embraces the challenges and opportunities that our ageing population presents by facilitating local authorities to take the lead on changing thinking about ageing, and how services are planned and delivered,

Laois Age Friendly County Strategy Vision – Read Laois Age Friendly Strategy 2016 – 2021

“Laois will be a county where older people are supported to live independently in safe and secure homes and communities suitable to their physical and social needs.  A County, where older people are enabled to participate in economic, social, political and community life and continue to grow, develop and contribute to society”.

The Laois Age Friendly County Programme was launched in June 2014. The process is being led by The Laois Age Friendly County Alliance, chaired by the Chief Executive of Laois County Council, and include relevant organizations such as the HSE, The Garda Siochana, Leader Partnership and other stakeholders.

A county wide consultation process took place to ensure that the planned Age Friendly County Strategy for Laois is informed by the views and priorities of older people and their organisations.

Over the summer of 2014 six public consultations/active listening workshops were held.  In May 2015 a Showcase for the Over 55s was held in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel which included a consultation workshop.  This was attended by approximately 200 persons.

The consultation was framed around 8 main themes;

  • Outdoor Spaces, Buildings and the Physical Environment – Older people are supported to be out and about by the social and built environments
  • Transportation – Older people are able to get to where they want to go, when they want
  • Housing – Older people stay living in their own homes and communities
  • Respect and Social Inclusion – Older people are truly valued and respected
  • Social Participation – Older people participate in social, economic and public life
  • Communication and Information – Older people have the information they need to live full lives
  • Community Support and Health Services – Older people lead healthy and active lives for longer
  • Civic Participation and Employment – Older people continue to learn, develop and work

The workshops were organised to encourage participants to contribute to discussions on the eight themes above using the following 4 questions:

  • What is good about each topic in Laois?
  • What would improve each topic in Laois?
  • What can you yourself do to improve each topic in Laois?
  • What can others do to improve each topic in Laois?

Laois aims to be an Age Friendly county

The Laois Age Friendly County Strategy 2016-2021 is an initiative designed to create a county where older people are valued and respected. It seeks to improve the quality of lives of people over the age of 55 in County Laois. This strategy is being implemented by the Laois County Age Friendly Alliance. This Alliance is an inter-agency group, led by Laois County Council. This is part of a national Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme spear headed by Age Friendly Ireland.

Cathaorleach Catherine Fitzgerald and retired TD and award winning author, Mary O’Rourke launched this initiative on Tuesday 14th June, 2016 in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois. The Cathaoirleach was joined at the launch by fellow speakers Chief Executive of Laois County Council and Chairperson of the Laois County Age Friendly Alliance, Mr. John Mulholland, Mr. Hugh O’Connor, CEO of Age Friendly Ireland and Orla O’Byrne, Chairperson of the Laois Older Person’s Forum.

Cathaoirleach Catherine Fitzgerald said “We are very lucky to have a very active older population in our county. Everyone hopes that as they grow older they will be supported to remain in their own home, be listened to and taken seriously, be able to work or volunteer, enjoy a good social life, and have access to good information and healthcare. These are hopes that we, as local agencies and organisations, want to work together to fulfil in Laois.

Chief Executive John Mulholland said” Local older people are key to the process; their collective voice is at the heart of the Age Friendly design. All the great societies of the world down through history have placed great value on the wisdom and life experience that older people brought to their communities. Through the Age Friendly Programme, we are striving to enhance the value and respect for the immense contribution that our older generation makes to our society, in our country and in our county.

The Laois County Age Friendly Alliance, an inter-agency planning Alliance, has been established to oversee the implementation of the initiative at county level. In Laois, it is particularly pleasing to see the collaborative nature of the commitments put forward by the range of stakeholders involved, An Garda Siochana, the HSE, Local Link, Laois Partnership, Laois Sports Partnership, Laois/Offaly Education & Training Board, Laois Older Person’s Forum and Laois County Council.

The Laois Age Friendly County Strategy 2016 – 2021 set out specific actions to be taken under the 8 (WHO) Themes that target areas designed to improve the quality of life of older people in County Laois. This strategy is a direct response to the views gathered from 283 older people over the age of 55 years in County Laois. The Laois Age Friendly County Strategy is available by contacting Tom Curran in the Community Development Section, Laois County Council of by dce@laoiscoco.ie

Launch 1

 

INFORMATION GUIDE TO SERVICES FOR OLDER PEOPLE IN COUNTY LAOIS” LAUNCHED

Laois Older People’s Forum, Laois Age Friendly Alliance Group, along with Laois Public Participation Network are proud to announce the launch of the “Information Guide to Services for Older People in County Laois”.

The Laois Age Friendly County Strategy 2016 – 2021 which was launched in June, 2016 sets out specific actions to be taken under the 8 (World Health Organisation) Themes that target areas designed to improve the quality of life of older people in County Laois. The Strategy was a direct response to the views gathered from 283 older people over the age of 55 years in County Laois.  This Information Guide has been compiled by the Older People’s Forum in association with Laois Age Friendly Alliance Group.  One of the Actions in the Strategy was to produce an Information Guide to address the information needs of older people, in particular the needs of the most vulnerable people in our community.  This Information Guide will help create more awareness of the services and support available for older people in the county.  Having information more readily available will enhance the lives of older people who make a valuable contribution to our society.

The need for the Information Guide is highlighted by the fact that the Irish population is ageing and the fastest growing age group is those aged over 80 years. In addition, the number of people living alone is anticipated to increase substantially between now and 2021.  This trend indicates the need for comprehensible, accurate and easily accessible information on services available to support older people.

It provides advice and information on entitlements, health, housing, home service supports and maintenance, safety and security, social and leisure activities, transport, support groups, useful numbers and contact details and so on. It will be of practical benefit to older people and the organisations and services working with them.

The information in this guide is presented in a clear colour coded format making it easy to use and is free of charge to the over 55s.

Chairperson of the Older People’s Forum, Orla O’Byrne said “The Laois Older People’s Forum hopes that this new Information Guide will help older people, who might feel isolated or lonely, to see all the services and help available to them in County Laois. We also hope that this guide might encourage them to join a club or a group of people with similar interests in order to meet new friends and have meetings, get togethers and fun to look forward to.”

Further information and copies of the Information Guide can be obtained through Tom Curran, Community Development Section, Laois County Council, County Hall, Portlaoise or by email agefriendly@laoiscoco.ie or by telephone 057-8664227.

 

Who Cares?

Another useful document to have access to is Who Cares? Support & Services for Carers in Laois and Offaly – Who-Cares-Carers-Resource-Pack-1.pdf

Laois Age Friendly Business Recognition Scheme

As part of the Age Friendly Programme the Age Friendly Business Recognition Scheme was launched after the Information Day concluded.  This Scheme acknowledges local businesses in Laois who have agreed to become Age Friendly and in this regard,  48 businesses, who had attended workshops and made detailed commitments of their proposed age friendly services, were presented with their Age Friendly Charter.

These businesses have agreed to embark on this Age Friendly journey by making changes to the way they deliver their service, thus making the older person feel welcome, appreciated, supported to be independent, and most importantly to make their customers feel that they will come back to their shop or service again and again.  By advertising themselves as Age Friendly businesses, they are letting older people know that the business values their custom and are committed to serving them.

If you have a business or service that you might like to advertise as Age Friendly and want more details on the Age Friendly Business Recognition Scheme, Tel. 057 8664227, or email agefriendly@laoiscoco.ie

Information Flyer on Age Friendly Business click here

Age Friendly-Business-Toolkit click here

The following businesses were presented with their Age Friendly Charters:

https://laois.ie/wp-content/uploads/List-of-AF-Businesses.pdf

 

 

 

AGE FRIENDLY RECOGNITION AND ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS 2019
Laois Offaly Local Link have been shortlisted for a National Age Friendly Recognition and Achievement Award for 2018/2019! This years event will be hosted by Dublin City Council, and will be held on 14th November 2019 in Croke Park.

The primary aim of these awards is to recognise and reward achievement in age friendly initiatives around Ireland. We are calling for organisations, individuals, agencies and communities to submit applications on projects or programmes that they consider to be age friendly.

This year, eight categories of awards, aligning to the WHO themes, have been chosen as they have a meaningful impact on the lives of older people, planning and creating a sustainable Ireland for all.

 

Laois Offaly Local Link have been shortlisted for a National Age Friendly Recognition and Achievement Award for 2018/2019! This years event will be hosted by Dublin City Council, and will be held on 14th November 2019 in Croke Park.

The primary aim of these awards is to recognise and reward achievement in age friendly initiatives around Ireland. We are calling for organisations, individuals, agencies and communities to submit applications on projects or programmes that they consider to be age friendly.

This year, eight categories of awards, aligning to the WHO themes, have been chosen as they have a meaningful impact on the lives of older people, planning and creating a sustainable Ireland for all.

The categories are: (WHO theme in brackets)

1. AGE FRIENDLY TRANSPORT AWARD (Transportation)
Getting to where you want to go when you want to go is so important to so many older people. This category recognises the vital difference that access to good quality and reliable transport options can make to an older person.

2. AGE FRIENDLY ACTIVE AND HEALTHY AGEING AWARD (Community Support and Health Services)
We are living for longer, but remaining healthy and active in later years can be a real challenge. This award recognises those initiatives that optimise opportunities for good health in later years, so that older people can continue to play an active role in community life.

3. AGE FRIENDLY BUSINESS INNOVATION AWARD (Civic Participation and Employment)
We know that creating an enjoyable and accessible environment for older consumers pays dividends for businesses and the wider community. This category acknowledges age aware businesses who recognise that older people are both producers and consumers and bring a wealth of experience and expertise to our society.

4. AGE FRIENDLY SAFETY AND SECURITY AWARD (Housing)
Feeling safe and secure at home and when out and about greatly enhances the lives of older people. This category acknowledges the impact of community based responses that enable older people to feel secure in their homes and in the wider community, and to know what to do when they don’t.

5. AGE FRIENDLY COMMUNICATION AWARD (Communication and Information)
A lack of access to information is often cited as a barrier to ‘ageing well’ in Ireland. The ability to access clear and concise information can impact on a range of aspects of an older person’s life, from health and wellbeing to social connectedness to financial security. This award recognises efforts being made around the country to bridge the information gap.

6. AGE FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT AWARD (Outdoor Spaces and Buildings)
The built environment has a unique impact on the lives of all older people. Simple things like adequate public seating, level footpaths and appropriate crossing times at pedestrian crossings all have a huge impact on the ability of older people to be active in their towns and villages. This category recognises projects that bring about change in the built physical environment with older people in mind.

7. AGE FRIENDLY COMMUNITY INNOVATION AWARD (Social Participation, Respect and Social Inclusion)
The voice of the older person is at the heart of the Age Friendly Cities and Counties Programme, the Programme is designed and implemented with them and not for them. This award recognises those innovative projects that are driven by older people for older people. These projects not only enhance the lives of older people, but benefit the community at large.

8. AGE FRIENDLY HOUSING AWARD (Housing)
As people age they spend more time in their own homes. This means that older people’s quality of life, and thus their health, can depend on the appropriateness of their home environment and the conditions in which they live. This award recognises innovative housing initiatives that enable older people to remain independent for as long as possible

 

 

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New Communities
Work with new communities, in conjunction with relevant agencies, includes supporting asylum seekers transitioning from direct provision; developing Laois’s first Integration Strategy; identifying and raising awareness of the needs of new communities; and enhancing their capacity to engage with service providers and other relevant organisations.
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Traveller Interagency Work
This Group comprises a number of agencies and organisations whose work includes the betterment of life for the Travelling Community in the county.

Membership of the Traveller Interagency Group includes:

  • Laois County Council (Group administrator)
  • HSE (Chair)
  • Laois Travellers Action Group
  • Members of Travelling Community
  • Laois/Offaly Education & Training Board
  • Laois Partnership
  • Dept of Social Protection
  • Laois County Childcare Committee
  • TUSLA Child & Family Agency
  • Midland Traveller Conflict Mediation Initiative

Useful Links:

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Laois Connects October 2022  

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This year, the Laois Connects Programme, co-ordinated by Laois County Council will take place from the 1st October to the 31st of October 2022. Events are spread throughout the county and there should be something for everyone in the schedule of events.

For locations of events – click below for Map.

For locations of events click this link

Listen to Midlands 103 interview with Michelle McCormick, local co-ordinator for Grow Mental Health

Laois Connects organising Committee represents Laois County Council, Laois Sports Partnership, Laois PPN, HSE, Laois Partnership Company, Mental Health Ireland, Mountmellick Youth and Family Resource Centre, Mountmellick Community School, LOETB, Healthy Ireland,

The Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, Councillor Thomasina Connell  had the following message for the people of Laois;

 

The  Laois Connects initiative is important , especially in the current climate, where people may be under pressure or stressed. It steers us to thinking about our mental health & wellbeing, and it prompts us to prioritise it. The last number of years have been difficult, and it is vital that we take the time to look after ourselves- connecting to communities and talking to people is more important than ever.  The phrase “ A problem shared is a problem halved “ as ever, rings true and Laois Connects encourages the people of Laois to reach out to each other- friends, family, community, or to the many services that are there to help

 

Ms. Josephine Rigney, Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention with the HSE and  a member of the Laois Connects Organisation Committee offers these words of advice and encouragement;

Each and every day we are all faced with the challenges of life – some within our control and some which are outside of our control.  Because of this, it is so important that we take the time to focus on ourselves and our wellness, both mentally and physically.  What are the things that we can do to build up our emotional resilience and wellbeing?    Laois Connects reminds us that there are activities that we can all do to mind our emotional and mental health, whether this is keeping active, looking after our physical health, staying in touch with others,  having a chat if we need to talk about something, or just doing something that we enjoy and get meaning from.   Keeping ourselves mentally and physical well on an ongoing basis is a gift that we can give to ourselves and one that will enable us to navigate and cope with the ups and downs and challenges of everyday life.  It is important also to be aware that sometimes we may need some support from others and we don’t have to do it all on our own.  Reach out to your support system – family, friends or someone you can trust.  Connect in with the various supports and services that are available – they are there for you and anyone who may need some help and support.  Check out www.connectingforlifemidlandslouthmeath.ie or www.yourmentalhealth.ie or Freephone: 1800 111 888 for a list of local and national services. “

 

Finola Colgan Development Officer Mental Health Ireland Midlands Louth and Meath said;

it is very timely to address mental health matters given the current changes taking place.. The theme of 2022’s World Mental Health Day, set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’. The overall aim is to  get the public to place mental health on a par with physical health. We all have mental health needs as we with physical health. However , when we find ourselves struggling, feeling unable to cope our mental health can be undermined. Laois Connects is providing a wonderful opportunity to learn more about our mental health and the supports that are available at such times. Equally important throughout the month  is the emphasis on activities that we can partake in to support and enhance our mental health.”

Among the events planned are Tai Chi Yoga classes, being offered by Laois County Council’s Sport and Leisure Department. These classes will be delivered at various locations throughout the county.

Laois Sports Partnership are delivering the Prime Time of Life program  along with the  Menowell program . Activator Pole sessions, which are always popular will also be scheduled throughout the month.

The Laois & Offaly Training Board (LOETB), in conjunction with Laois Libraries are providing a series of workshops on Mindfulness, along with Mindful Art sessions.

There will be a HSE information event taking place in Laois Shopping Centre on the 14th of October and the Sing For Joy choir will be performing on the 19th of October in the Parish Centre in Portlaoise.

A number of shows with a mental health theme will take place in Portlaoise & Portarlington, delivered by the Dunamaise Arts Theatre.

There is an opportunity to attend an open – mic event to discuss the topics of “Living with Hope” and “ Living with Loss”, two of the topics in the Laois Connects Podcast series, on 25th October in the Parish Centre- http://laoispartnership.ie/ laois-connects-podcast/.

We encourage everyone to get out walking & running in the fresh air and we have listings of walks in Laois along with Park Run & Junior Park Run events .

Some of the organising committee for Laois Connects pictured with Cathaoirleach Cllr. Thomasina Connell at the Laois 2022 Launch

https://www.facebook.com/laoisconnects/

https://www.instagram.com/laoisconnects2022/