Integrating older people
Green spaces and wellbeing
This is not a stock photo. This gentleman is an actual resident of the Waterside ward in Frodsham. His words are:
“My name does not matter anymore. I live on my own. I have nowhere to sit and chat with my friends. I am depressed.”
He would prefer to remain nameless.
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.”
Source: Anne Frank – The Diary Of A Young Girl
Green spaces play a key role in maintaining positive mental health and well-being. The district council has a vision to promote these values:
“Our Vision: To reduce inequalities, increase years of healthy life and promote mental and physical health and well-being for everyone in Cheshire West… The quality of the built and natural environment including neighbourhood design, housing, the food environment, green spaces, transport, air quality and natural environments also affects our health. These factors are shaped significantly by the development and implementation of planning and design decisions, both nationally and locally.”
Source: Cheshire West & Chester – Place Plan
Enabling environments for older residents
Many pensioners bungalows are within the catchment area of Green Gates Park. It’s a shame the gates are locked. Vulnerable older residents cannot be expected to make do with the facilities at Saltworks, neither do they actually use them. Saltworks is good for football, the skate park, dog walking and generally the older children. However, the provision of green space for the older generations of Waterside is non-existent.
“Green spaces in rural and urban areas have been shown to be highly beneficial to health and well-being and provide space for people to meet… A cross-government project has been established, led by Natural England, to draw up a national framework of green infrastructure standards in 2019, ensuring that new developments include accessible green spaces and that any area with little or no green space can be improved for the benefit of the community.”
Source: HM Government: A Connected Society
Inclusive Design For older people
“As place-makers we can help to create places that encourage social connection and to create spaces that people want to use and are able to use that are safe and secure and that are accessible to all:
- Making dementia-friendly spaces that are designed to encourage people out of their homes, with connections and routes that are accessible and safe.
- Ensuring that amenities and facilities are in walking distance and the routes to these places are safe.
- Delivering a range of places for leisure activities and where people can meet.
- Including facilities for physical activity.
- Ensuring that the spaces to meet are safe, with excellent natural surveillance through active frontages and well-considered layouts.”
Source: Lichfields Planning & Development Consultancy
Even the government recognises the importance of green space for well-being. They made £1 million available to community groups seeking funding to create or develop ‘pocket parks’.
Source: Ministry Of Housing – Pocket Parks Plus
Castle Park is perfect for all generations, but the distance simply means that people with mobility issues cannot access it with the regularity required for mental well-being. The older people of Waterside would see great benefit in doorstep provision of green space designed to suit their particular needs.
Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds
Do you remember the S4C documentary where they integrated the young children with older residents from a care home?
“What we found was that just a few days in each others’ company resulted in some life-affirming interactions, with both care staff and service users commenting on how beneficial the intergenerational project had been. But this was not just about helping elders: the children enjoyed the increased attention too, and had more opportunities to develop their social and emotional skills.”
Source: The Conversation
The NHS is now using social prescribing to help patients to improve their health, well-being and social welfare. Research shows that older people are more likely to use green space for walking. Along with social prescribing, activity of any form is being recommended as a huge benefit to physical and mental health, particularly for people with long term health conditions. For example it is widely acknowledged that physical activity and exercise are just as important as medicine for people affected by Parkinson’s.’
“The health impact of loneliness is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day… The aim of social prescribing is to connect individuals with non-clinical or social needs to opportunities for social interaction, support, learning and healthy living. This will relieve some of the pressure on health services, but more importantly, it will improve the quality of life and well- being for our residents.”
Source: Cheshire West & Chester – Place Plan
It’s not just older people’s mental well-being that is improved by having access to green spaces. There is so much scope for the Green Gates Community Project. Creating a focus for the older people is complementary to a children’s playground. Intergenerational projects and social prescribing would bring the park to life. Home Instead have expressed an interest in participating projects that bring the young and older generations together.
This project can go so much beyond the basic provision of play equipment and be of real benefit to Frodsham as a whole.