What conditions must an area require to satisfy the independence of people with disabilities whilst guaranteeing the maintenance or improvement of life quality? This question is answered based on an extensive survey in six neighbourhoods in Rotterdam.
Since the 1st of January 2007 the new Act of Social Support (WMO) is in force. In the framework of this act, every municipality is required to promote social cohesion and quality of life in communities and neighbourhoods, where quality of life stands for living in a pleasant and safe environment providing accessible care, welfare and convenience services to everyone.
The municipality of Rotterdam has included the principles of the WMO in two important action programmes: Action programme Seniors and Action programme Rotterdam citizens with a disability. For citizens who belong to one of these groups, a viable and accessible neighbourhood is a requirement to be able to live independently longer.
The concept of accessibility is broad in this sense; it is not merely the physical accessibility of buildings and outdoor space, but also the availability and accessibility of housing, facilities and services in the neighbourhoods.
To answer this question, knowledge of the local context is necessary. The six neighbourhoods where the study was conducted, namely Het Lage Land, Prinsenland, Vreewijk, Lombardijen, Oud-Charlois en De Esch, differ widely in terms of demographic composition, embedding in the urban context, urban structure or the level of facilities.
The study consists of two parts: the living field analysis, which maps the facilities in the neighbourhood and presents a qualitative study amongst residents. There are three central themes: Living & Public transportation, Leisure & Greenery facilities and Care & Service. Residents were asked about their valuation of provisions associated with these topics. Despite the significant differences between the neighbourhoods, the general conclusions are very similar. Issues such as wide sidewalks, the presence of meeting places, neighbourhood healthcare etc. are universal. In the advisory report this is discussed in detail.
Principal Sociale zaken en werkgelegenheid (SoZaWe - Social Affairs and Employment) is now working with parishes in the different neighbourhoods to get started with the results of the study.