Introduction to Chiayi City
Statistics shows that Taiwan became an ageing society in 1993. People aged 65 and above accounted for 10.21% of total population by the end of 2007. Population Forecast by Council for Economic Planning and Development of Executive Yuan projects that old age population will exceed 14% in 2017 turning Taiwan into an aged society defined by U.N.; this percentage is expected to increase to 20% by 2025 leading Taiwan into a super-aged society. This trend indicates that older adults are not in minority but ever more prevalent.
The number of older adults in Chiayi City stood at 20.97% of its total population, far higher than the 10% level defined by WHO (see Figure 1).
Population forecast shows that the percentage of the elderly in Chiayi City will surpass 30% in 2021 (see Table 1). Therefore, policies for and living environment of older adults should be taken into account to mitigate the negative impact brought by ageing. From the public sector, the City has been devoted tremendous resources to implement the “Long-Term care system for older adults” and “Community care system”. Chiayi City has received the award of “Best Medical care city” and “Best Social Welfare City” in Taiwan three successive years. Within the private sector, it has a rich array of leaders in aging, each of whom has their own set of initiatives. These include Chiayi Evergreen Center; gerontological education centers, like Ministry of Education Senior Active Learning and Resource Center; and many others. In addition, Chiayi city has promoted Healthy City in the past 3 years (2008-2010).
Considering both the WHO age-friendly city criteria and an ageing population in our country, the project will focus on two aspects, namely, the physical environment, and the social and mental environment, which are further divided into eight sections (Figure 2) according to the WHO guidelines.
The NCKU research team took several months to identify local characteristics of ageing population and undertook 1600 tele-interviews to obtain the general satisfaction level of older citizens towards eight aspects in Taiwan as a whole. Followed by conducting 4 community meetings, 2 focus group meetings, and one questionnaire survey in Chiayi city involving over 400 local older participants, the team intends to maximize the effect of bottom-up approach. Also, it is the first time that older citizens acknowledge their leadership in this project instead just policy receivers. The issues of eight domains have been identified through the need assessment process and listed as following table 2.
The city has completed its self-assessment process from March to May, 2011, and drafted over 40 initiatives for the next 3 years. The Chiayi City Age-Friendly City Committee has select the prioritized initiatives based on three principles as following:
1) convergence with existing policies;
2) availability of funds; and
3) urgency of the issue to formulate a 3-year action plan.
Multiple sectors and institutions will be engaged in the project. In addition to the expert roundtables, we continuously work with partners from civil society, business, health and social services, and academia and research. We have deliberately involved local business, health care, civil society, housing, planning, transportation, cultural affairs, media, technology, and other sectors in the project. Also, the Healthy City Alliance in Taiwan has become a very active organization that supports all health-related issues and movement. We have strong connections with the Alliance since Chiayi City just finished a 3-year promotion of Healthy City Project in 2010.
Through analysis of the current status in Chiayi City, we derived primary age-friendly issues and compared them with 8 criteria proposed by WHO to recommend the appropriate criteria to Chiayi City for self-evaluation.
The vision of Chiayi Age-friendly cities will be : growing older, living better. For eight domains, by proposing overarching action plans, the goal is to improve continuously in order to create an urban environment that is not only safe, comfortable, supportive for old age but also for all ages.