Skip navigation
Journal article

Co-designing urban living solutions to improve older people’s mobility and well-being

This paper reports on a co-design study with 117 participants investigating the interaction of existing urban spaces and infrastructure on mobility and well-being for older residents (aged 55 + years) in three UK cities.

Steve Cinderby, Howard Cambridge / Published on 11 April 2018

Read the paper  Open access


Cinderby, S., Cambridge, H., Attuyer, K., Bevan, M., Croucher, K., Gilroy, R. and Swallow, D. (2018). Co-designing Urban Living Solutions to Improve Older People’s Mobility and Well-Being. Journal of Urban Health. 10.1007/s11524-018-0232-z

Mobility is a key aspect of active ageing enabling participation and autonomy into later life. Remaining active brings multiple physical but also  social benefits leading to higher levels of well-being. With globally  increasing levels of urbanisation alongside demographic shifts meaning in  many parts of the world this urban population will be older people, the  challenge is how cities should evolve to enable so-called active ageing.

A mixed method approach was trialled to identify locations beneficial to subjective well-being and participant-led solutions to urban mobility challenges. Spatial analysis was used to identify key underlying factors in locations and infrastructure that promoted or compromised mobility and well-being for  participants. Co-designed solutions were assessed for acceptability or co-  benefits amongst a wider cross-section of urban residents (n = 233) using online and face-to-face surveys in each conurbation. The research analysis identified three critical intersecting and interacting thematic problems for urban mobility amongst older people: The quality of physical infrastructure; issues around the delivery, governance and quality of urban systems and  services; and the attitudes and behaviors of individuals that older people  encounter.

Visualistion Graphic showing key mobility factors

Visualisation showing key mobility factors emerging from qualitative data collection.

This identified complexity reinforces the need for policy responses that may not necessarily involve design or retrofit measures, but instead might challenge perceptions and behaviors of use and access to urban space. The co-design results further highlight that solutions need to move beyond the generic and placeless, instead embedding specific locally relevant solutions in inherently geographical spaces, populations and processes to ensure they relate to the intricacies of place.

Read the paper

Open access

SEI authors

Steve Cinderby

Senior Research Fellow

SEI York

Howard Cambridge

Research Support Group Manager

SEI York

Read the paper
Journal of Urban Health Open access
Topics and subtopics
Health : Cities, Well-being
Related centres
SEI York

Design and development by Soapbox.