REHACARE Congress: "Building the quarter is a process"

Interview with Franz Müntefering, Chairman of the Federal Working Group of Senior Citizen Organizations (German: Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Senioren-Organisationen (BAGSO)), Federal Minister (ret.)


How do we want to live in our city quarter in the future? Developing inclusive quarters becomes more and more important, because senior citizens want to remain independent as long as possible. This also means: They want to decide for themselves where they live. This is why quarters have to fulfill the needs that everyone has on the one hand, as well as the special needs that we have individually.

Image: Older man with suite, glasses and short grey-black hair at a speaker's desk - Franz Müntefering; Copyright: beta-web/Höpfner

Franz Müntefering; © beta-web/Höpfner

The REHACARE Congress 2016 deals with this topic at Thursday, 29 September. talked to Franz Müntefering, who will give a lecture on this topic, about the quarter that is older generation friendly.

Mr. Müntefering, what does your ideal of a quarter look like that is older generation friendly?

Müntefering: Each community, each quarter has a look of its own, its own history and perspectives. One quickly misses real life when describing an ideal. It is much better to approach the idea of the quarter from a pragmatic point of view: analysis - goal - specification of the subsequent steps on the way, clarification of the task that needs to be solved and responsibility.

What challenges do communities and cities face when they want to offer enough living space that is older generation friendly?

Müntefering: Communal and other housing associations need to be involved, they are already in many cases. The deconstruction of barriers and the directed modification of apartments that already exist are both possible and necessary, as well as the construction of new apartments that fulfill the need. The modification has to be realized quicker and in a way that higher numbers are achieved. Perfectionism is not important here but concrete improvements: the necessary door width, shower instead of a tub, electronical aids for example in roller blinds, removal of stumbling blocks. This can be realized as a “small program” with controllable costs. Often, federal funding is available as support. The residential environment needs to become both barrier free and suitable for the user. Mobility has to be ensured both inside and outside. This is central for quality of life.

Is this really an inclusive way of planning or does it mean to separate the young people from the old ones to give each of them their own quarter?

Müntefering: This would be completely wrong. Quarters can only be good ones when they are adequate to life in all of its dimensions. All phases of life need to be at home here, with all things they share and all the special things that life brings with it. Quarters do not only have to be “older generation friendly”, they have to be “society friendly”.

Are there lighthouse projects, in Germany or internationally, where these concepts have been realized in a good way?

Müntefering: This idea is not particularly new and both the city and the quarter are never definitively finished. The external conditions change as well as the individual ways of life and the design of the society. The quarter is a process, too, and it is important to shape this process in pace with the times and to know that every goal we reach is only preliminary. This is a very exciting task.

Mr. Müntefering will give his lecture "Stadt ist mehr als die Ansammlung von Häusern - altegerecht zum Beispiel" at REHACARE Congress at 29 September 2016, at 10.45 a.m. in Room 3, Congress Center Düsseldorf South. The congress language is German.
Learn more about the REHACARE Congress here:
Foto: Timo Roth; Copyright: B. Frommann

© B. Frommann

The interview was conducted and translated from German by Timo Roth.