18 June 2010

A Tale of Two Counties: Growing Older in Oxfordshire

Age UK Oxfordshire publishes a major new report.

A Tale of Two Counties: Growing Older in Oxfordshire, spells out the dramatic changes that are taking place in the population of the county, mainly due to our better health and living longer. Age UK Oxfordshire says the changes are a cause of celebration: a triumph rather than a “timebomb”.

The report, supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, sets out in meticulous detail what we know about the uneven experiences of older people. Age UK Oxfordshire explains that there are wide variations in life expectancy, health status, financial assets, and in access to a decent quality of life in retirement. On average people in the county live longer, have more money and enjoy their neighbourhood more than most parts of the UK. For many in Oxfordshire, later life is full of opportunity: a positive and enjoyable experience. But this is not true for all.

The charity is highlighting the evidence, including the sobering facts that:

  • Some 7,000 people have dementia, but only a third or so have a diagnosis;
  • There are areas of real poverty; Oxford city has a relatively high rate of Pension Credit;
  • Nearly half of rural Oxfordshire does badly in providing access to services such as GPs and supermarkets;
  • Over 40,000 older people are living on their own.

Launching the report Paul Cann, Chief Executive of Age UK Oxfordshire said:
“We can make longevity the good news story it ought to be for all older people if we act now, to help people grow older in good health, with adequate income, and ensure they are not pushed aside by an uncaring society.”

“There are some big challenges – of poverty, ill-health, ageism and public spending pressures – but this county of all places is able to surmount them. We have great assets of talented, energetic older people. We have strong partnerships across the statutory and voluntary sectors. In these tough economic times we will all be working together even harder across the county.”

Andrew Barnett, Director of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, UK, said:
“We are delighted to have funded this important project which has been about digging deep into the evidence and listening to the voices of older people about their quality of life. That understanding is essential as a basis for action to prevent or combat the things that can go wrong in later life: low income, poor health and above all for so many a loss of involvement and self-esteem. We want to help older people and other vulnerable groups connect with opportunity and have a richer quality of life.”

John Jackson, Director of Social and Community Services, Oxfordshire County Council, said:
“I would like to congratulate all involved in this merger and Oxfordshire County Council looks forward to continuing to work closely with all concerned. I also welcome this important report which highlights many of the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead.”

Offering a 10-point action plan, Age UK Oxfordshire believes that a truly ‘age-friendly’ county is eminently achievable. Actions, ranging from a drive on benefits take-up, to more support from communities for people with dementia, could make Oxfordshire a truly great place to grow old.

The report is available from Age UK Oxfordshire (T 01235 849400).

Ends


For further press information please contact
Rachelle Kennedy
at Age UK Oxfordshire on 01235 849400 or 07827 235405
Email: [email protected]


Editor’s Notes:

A Tale of Two Counties: Growing Older in Oxfordshire
Funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, our report contains detailed factual data on growing older in Oxfordshire, in addition to case studies, findings and views of older people around the county.

Contents includes:
The demographic triumph, by Joan Bakewell
Ten steps to an age-friendly Oxfordshire
Having it all? The call to action
Research summary

  1. Population and demographics
  2. Living and housing
  3. Employment and money
  4. Health and well-being
  5. Access and communities
    Feedback from older people’s forums
    Final words
    Annex 1 Finding out more
    Annex 2 Key indicators for older people in Oxfordshire

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is an international charitable foundation with cultural, educational and social interests. Based in Lisbon with branches in London and Paris, the Foundation is in a privileged position to support transnational work tackling contemporary issues facing Europe. The purpose of the UK Branch in London is to connect and enrich the experiences of individuals, families and communities with a special interest in supporting those who are the most disadvantaged. In 2008, the Foundation launched an initiative on ageing and social cohesion, with a number of activities developed with colleagues in Lisbon. This report represents the latest development of a wide portfolio of work which we hope will contribute to a growing understanding of the impact of demographic ageing to our society.

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
(UK Branch)
50 Hoxton Square
London N1 6PB
020 7012 1400
[email protected]

Age UK Oxfordshire
As from 21st May 2010 Age Concern Oxfordshire City & County formally became Age UK Oxfordshire. We work together with the new national charity Age UK, the force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, and have joined them in a new partnership for the future.

Age UK Oxfordshire continues to work with and for older people in and around Oxfordshire as an independent charity.

The organisation has over 40 years of experience in promoting the well-being of older people and their carers. Its mission is to make later life a fulfilling and enjoyable experience and every year thousands of people across the county take advantage of its services.

Our Information and Advice Service answers over 6,000 enquiries a year on a vast range of subjects. These include staying independent at home, financial entitlements, housing, legal issues, carers support, moving home, social opportunities and much more.

The Helpline can be contacted on:
• 0844 8870005 (Abingdon) 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday
• 01295 278040 (Cherwell) 10am- 2pm Monday to Friday

Age UK Oxfordshire’s Community Development team works with older people and Local Link volunteers across the county to develop activities and opportunities to stay healthy in mind and body. Another key activity is the organisation of day centres and lunch clubs in venues across the county where older people can meet friends and enjoy a nourishing meal.

Working closely with the local authority and mental health teams, the charity provides flexible care, day care centres and memory clinics to promote independence and enhance quality of life for those with mental health needs.

Other services include Sole Mates, a foot care service provided by trained volunteers, and Phone Link which is a free service providing housebound older people with a friendly regular link by telephone.

We have shops across Oxfordshire and are always grateful for good quality donations for resale. We also provide a range of insurance products and services designed with the needs of the over 50’s in mind.

The charity organises regular panels and forums, giving older people the opportunity to work together to inform and influence policy makers and service providers.

The services offered by Age UK Oxfordshire are provided by over 600 volunteers working alongside staff. We could not exist without the help and support of our many dedicated volunteers and we are always looking for caring individuals to join our team. There are various volunteer opportunities throughout the county in our offices, day centres, lunch clubs and shops for those with a few hours to spare each week

You can find further information on all our services and volunteering opportunities, and how you can help, by telephoning 01235 849400 (Abingdon) or 01295 278040 (Banbury) or by visiting our website: www.ageconcernoxon.org.uk