MAPPING software is to be used to track older people across Edinburgh in a bid to improve the location of services for the elderly.
The move is the first key recommendation of a Europe-wide health study.
Italian city Udine has used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to show where older people live and how they move about the city. The information was then used to help decide on the location of services such as pharmacies and clinics.
Edinburgh is the only Scottish city to have been included in the pioneering Urbact Healthy Ageing project. The scheme’s leading city is Udine, while the others are Brighton and Hove, south of the Border, Grand Poitiers in France, and Klaipeda in Lithuania.
The project aims to “transfer learning” between European cities about their approaches to tackling issues such as demographic ageing and meeting the needs of older residents.
GIS has been used in the past by Edinburgh Council to help with planning, parks and transport.
European funding for the project will pay for an IT worker to develop an online mapping tool with key data relating to older people’s services and activities in the city.
Projects in partner cities have highlighted walking groups, urban gardens, poetic therapy and story-telling and activities to improve or maintain memory skills.
City health and wellbeing leader Councillor Ricky Henderson, said: “The Urbact Healthy Ageing project is a fantastic opportunity to learn about successful ways in which the lives of older people can be improved, and gives us the chance to share our good practice too.
“Promoting healthy and active ageing is an essential part of improving lives for older people. If we improve health and wellbeing, then it’s likely that the need for older people to access higher levels of care will be delayed.”
Scottish Green health spokeswoman Alison Johnstone agreed.
She said: “Using technology in this way is a great use of resources in an effort to increase the health and wellbeing of our elderly population. Such mapping will greatly help in locating the right services in the right areas. In the years ahead with an ageing population and stretched finances it is only right to the user that services are located in the right places and that they are as accessible as possible.”
Figures show that Scotland’s population is ageing, and by 2035 over-65s will account for more than 30 per cent of people.
Health experts have warned the NHS will struggle to cope with rising numbers of elderly patients with complex needs in the years ahead against a backdrop of reduced resources and dropping bed numbers.