RESIDENTS and stakeholders in the Melksham community had the opportunity to listen to the early findings from the baseline survey being conducted by Age Friendly Melksham as part of the process of getting Melksham recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an Age Friendly community.
The survey, which has been running since July ,will continue to accept new submissions though until the end of the year.
The results were presented at a special meeting organised by Age Friendly Melksham, where selected stakeholders and some of those who had already participated in the survey gathered at the Assembly Hall to listen to the guest speaker from the UK Centre for Ageing Better, Rhonda Riachi. She reminded attendees that between 2018 and 2038, there will be a 40% increase in the number of people aged over 65.
The baseline survey asked about issues across seven different domains of people’s lives including social inclusion, health care and participation in decision making.
When looking at the early results, presenters Phillipa Huxtable and Jon Hubbard, showed how by isolating responses to different age groups or by how people judged their quality of life, demonstrated some wide variations in response.
Chair of Age Friendly Melksham, Jon Hubbard said, “What we were able to demonstrate is that what often is seen as the majority response does not necessarily represent everyone, especially those in their senior years. Our aim is for an Age Friendly response to some of the challenges and opportunities in our community that considers everyone, whatever their age.”
Melksham’s Age Friendly coordinator, Phillipa Huxtable added, “It has been fantastic today to see so many people really engaged with the information we have gained so far, and the enthusiasm for helping us to get an even better representative response for our baseline survey.
“Even as we finish gathering this data now, we are starting work on setting up three Network Forums to help create a Community Action Plan (CAP) for Melksham and the surrounding area. This CAP will be the next part in making Melksham an Age Friendly Community and will help us identify actions we can take to help everyone in our community.”
Jon was keen to stress that the plan belonged to the whole community, not just the town adding, “It is important to recognise that Age Friendly is something for every person, organisation and business across the whole Melksham Community Area. It’s not something owned or delivered by the council, whichever council, or by Age Friendly Melksham. It is something that comes from the whole community.”
When presenting some of the data from the survey it was pointed out that in Melksham the most popular source for information was the local press, something very different than seen in most other communities nowadays. “There is no doubt in my mind,” said Jon Hubbard when presenting the data, “that this local anomaly is due to our fantastic local newspaper, Melksham News.”