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Scottish Region Policy Group response on "Age and Experience - Developing a Strategy for a Scotland with an Ageing Population."

The responses below are those of members of The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport(UK) Scottish Policy Group who have contributed to the response on "Age and Experience - Developing a Strategy for a Scotland with an Ageing Population"

The Institute is the professional body for the full range of people who are engaged in logistics and transport. This includes freight and passenger transport operators, government and local government employees, consultants and academics. This response is limited to those aspects which relate to the expertise of the Institute's members.

The benefits from developing a strategy are recognised but defining older people as those over fifty could make it difficult to obtain an all embracing approach. The background information paper 'Setting the Scene' points out that a flexible view needs to be taken of what 'older' means and highlights difficulties ranging from someone in their fifties being turned down for jobs to a ninety year old being neglected in a care home.

Using age as a proxy for infirmity or a low disposable income has administrative attractions but can lead to difficulties and inefficient use of resources; for example free bus travel for those over 60 benefits many who are physically fit with above average incomes whilst the non elderly unemployed do not receive the benefit. It is pointed out that such benefits have been well received but care should be taken to ensure that action to obtain political popularity is not taken in preference to a targeting of resources to benefit those most in need.

We agree that transport together with other services should be fit for purpose and responsive to needs. This ranges from greater economic engagement to healthcare and we support the aims and objectives of the strategy. It is important to recognise that transport should reflect these aspirations not only in respect of meeting the travel needs of the elderly but in providing them with the goods and services they require.

A basic aim for the population as a whole should be to reduce the need to travel. This applies particularly to the elderly, bearing in mind the majority of mobility impaired are over 60. Statistics often don't reflect the extent of physical disability bearing in mind that many who obtain related benefits, such as concessionary travel do so by virtue of their age because the validation process is easier.

For those who are fit and healthy encouragement should be given, as for the population at large to encourage walking and cycling. Such activities assist in maintaining good health and residences for the elderly should be located close to public transport, shops and other amenities with convenient walkways and cycleways. The aim should be to avoid the need for specialist transport provision for those who are physically active. With regard to the broad questions

1. Contribution and Opportunity.
To assist those who wish to contribute to society access to job opportunities, other amenities and associated public and private transport should be as convenient as possible. This includes walk and cycle routes as mentioned, together with provision, when developing relevant housing areas for bus routes and parking.

2. Work.
There are many job opportunities in logistics and transport activities which could be attractive to elderly people. There is a shortage of bus and commercial vehicle drivers and many elderly people could undertake such jobs. Opportunities also exist in warehouses and retail outlets. Greater encouragement should be given for elderly people to take up such job opportunities perhaps by providing financial and other assistance towards the necessary training.

3. Services for older people.
Some existing services for older people, which are provided for all are expensive and better use of available resources might be obtained by more specific targeting as referred to earlier. For example many elderly people with a free travel concession do not have convenient access to a bus service. A diversion of resources to obtain by service subsidy, more accessible services even if only for a limited number of journeys could be of significant benefit. Greater use of subsidy to obtain more demand responsive services either by flexible routing or by extension of 'dial-a-ride' services would be beneficial to many elderly people. Arrangements to facilitate shared car use or shared taxis also deserve greater attention.

With regard to obtaining goods and services, arrangements to facilitate shared use of delivery vehicles amongst elderly people perhaps on a co-operative basis and with subsidy deserve exploring. Traffic management restrictions on deliveries should be minimised where the elderly are recipients. For all services a basic requirement should be that transport needs are an integral part of the planning process whether for physical provision such as medical centres and hospitals or for personal services provided for the elderly in their homes. This should embrace public and private transport, requisite parking and walking and cycle routes as highlighted previously.

It is recognised that future services are likely to be influenced by the impact of new technology. It is important to ensure that this does not only result in improved efficiency for the delivery of such services but that the new technology is used directly to improve the quality of service to the recipient. At the same time new techniques to access services, such as new entitlement cards and extension of electronic capability should be used with care to minimise potential confusion for those of the elderly who are not receptive to change. Such concerns extend to the complexities in form filling and validation procedures involved in gaining access to many services.

4. Health and well-being.
Health services should give prime consideration to ease of travel and parking for the elderly travelling by public, private and specialist transport. This includes in particular decisions on centralisation or rationalisation of facilities and where treatment at home is under consideration. It is agreed that issues on isolation, loneliness and poor health are very real. To reduce such problems residential locations and social centres should be arranged to reduce the need to travel. Where travel for social interaction and to access amenities cannot be avoided it should be convenient and accessible as previously outlined. These points apply in particular to older people. Those over 60 have free bus travel and require accessible bus services. This group should similarly not be charged for parking at health service locations.

5. Housing, transport and surroundings.
The responses to previous questions relating to transport all apply here. In addition there is increasing concern that centralisation of health and other facilities, coupled with continuing development of large and out of town shopping centres is increasing car dependency. This relates to everyone and is unlikely to be sustainable in the longer term but at present is a particular problem for many elderly people. A greater proportion of the elderly are mobility impaired, do not have access to a car or are financially disadvantaged compared with the general population. This relative disadvantage is likely to increase as a greater proportion of the population become elderly.

The numbers of local community centres and the facilities they provide are declining and this is also a particular problem for the elderly, conflicting with the aim to reduce the need for and extent of travel. If the Executive is to seriously cater for the needs of an ageing population it must re-examine its wider planning and transport policies to obtain more local community based areas of activity and facilitate greater interaction between the different age groups. Movement towards ghettos and the consequent necessary expensive measures to maintain basic living standards and proper provision for the elderly should if possible to avoided.

6. Other Issues.
Developing the Strategy for a Scotland with an ageing population should not be considered the same as developing a strategy to cater for the needs of the elderly. As highlighted earlier the elderly, particularly if defined as those over 50 are a very wide ranging group; almost as diverse as the complete adult population. What is required is a range of policies to cover the many different characteristics of those highlighted as elderly. Even better use of the word 'elderly' should be avoided. It will of course be essential to ensure that all terminology is consistent with the Age Discrimination Regulations 2006 to be enacted in October.

Where possible the desire to stereotype and develop specific solutions for general application should be avoided. Our concerns and aspirations, as highlighted apply in the main to the general population, albeit often with greater force for the elderly. The aim should be to have a fully integrated population, embracing all age groups, with special attention limited to those who require it rather than categorisation by age. It is hoped that you will find these observations helpful.


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