Ageing (Sarah Hean)

Authors: Sarah Hean (School of Health and Social Care) on behalf of the Older Person, Children and Diverse Groups Programme (OPCD) of the Centre of Wellbeing and Quality of Life (CeWQoL)

Alternative name suggestion: Wellbeing and Quality of Life of Older People OR Wellbeing and Quality of Life across the Life Span

Brief theme summary: The theme focuses on intergroup communication as a means of enhancing older people’s quality of life.  Two dimensions are highlighted specifically: social and mental wellbeing.

Social wellbeing:  The theme focuses on reducing social isolation by enhancing older people’s communication with peers, community, health/social care professionals and other service providers (we view service providers as all professionals that may enhance the QOL of Older People and do not confine this to health and social care professionals alone), in order that their voice is heard in social policy. Professionals, working in multiprofessional, interagency environments, and who offer client-centred services, need to effectively communicate with each other and the client to ensure the quality of life of the older person. This theme explores how these processes can be better streamlined, understood and developed.

Mental well being: The mental/cognitive well being of older people is also a theme focus, considering particularly the experiences of older people living with dementia and the associated concepts of vulnerability.

We promote a humanistic approach that puts an emphasis on the lived experience of the older person, embodying their life goals and values.  Hereby, older people, form part of interprofessional, interdisciplinary or interagency teams rather than the passive recipient of their actions.  The theme therefore also focuses on developing these interprofessional teams through exploring and developing Interprofessional training that promotes an understanding of the value maps of both other professionals/agencies and the older person themselves.

Scope of theme: what is included? Research is often related to applied social science type research and service evaluations.

Developing rigorous theoretical models to guide research and practice in the theme is central.

Quantitative research: secondary data analysis of service records and cross sectional and longitudinal surveys. 

Qualitative research:  a range of perspectives (phenomenology, grounded theory etc) through focus groups, interviews and practice observations.  Practice development/service enhancement methodologies are also relevant.

Members of our OPCD programme apply their expertise in user involvement, social capital, social isolation, social networks, working with vulnerable groups, mental health, Dementia, Complementary Therapies, Interprofessional working and Education to this theme.  We focussing these skills on improving:

  • the outcome of Wellbeing and Quality of life
  • the population group of Older People.

To give a flavour of the types of project that fit under this theme, see below:

Previously funded Projects in Programme

  • Evaluation of the Mid Essex Memory Assessment and Support Service Care (Programme themes: Dementia, Older people) (Funder: NHS)
  • Evaluation of a Women worker in Criminal Justice System ((Programme themes: mental health, intergroup communication) (CoFunders: NHS/Criminal Justice System)
  • Evaluation of the South West Mental Health Assessment, Advice and Reports in Court Proceedings Pilot ((Programme themes: mental health/ intergroup communication)(CoFunders: NHS/CJS) 
  • Evolving theory in interprofessional education seminar series CROSS INSTITUTIONAL (Programme themes: Intergroup communication; Funder: ESRC)   

Current Funded Projects in Programme

  • Exploring the impact of friendship clubs on social isolation for the older age group”  – commissioned by. 2008-2011;  (Programme themes: Older People, social wellbeing) (Funder: Brendon care)
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnership: Building a business/social enterprise model to support older people self funding their own care (CROSS SCHOOL: HSC-BS))(Programme themes: Older people, intergroup communication) (Funder: ESRC/ HTB)
  • Exploring older people’s experiences of wellbeing and financial literacy during an Economic Down Turn (CROSS SCHOOL: HSC-BS) (Programme theme: Older people, quality of life, intergroup communication) (Joint Funders Institute of chartered accountants Scotland, Bournemouth Foundation)

Bids submitted

  • Interagency working London: evaluation of Focus teams liaising between Medium Secure Unit and CMHTs: (Short listed tender interview completed, Awaiting outcome: Programme theme: (Mental health, intergroup communication) (Funder: NHS)
  • Economic impact of social organisations: SW form: shortlisted for interview: Sarah Hean, John Fletcher, Charlie Monkcom (CAB) Presentation July 2011 CROSS SCHOOL (HSC-Tourism)(Programme theme: Older people, quality of life, Mental health, intergroup communication)(Funder: Big Lotttery. SW Forum)(Awaiting outcome)

Bids planned for term ahead:

  • Dementia bid: mapping the care pathway from the perspective of the patient: CROSS INSTITUIONAL (Programme theme: Older people, dementia) (Funder ESRC)

Scope of theme: what is excluded? Drug control trials or laboratory trials are out of our remit.

Which big societal questions are addressed by this theme? The Big Society promotes a move away from state support for social action to an increased reliance on community involvement and support of these activities.  This places particular pressure on third/voluntary sector organisations to fill the gap left by the with drawl of state funding and services.  These organisations are finding it increasingly important to be accountable for the social and financial impact of any state funding they do still receive and they need to develop their organisations financially to be increasingly independent of state funding.  In an increasingly ageing population, those third sector organisations supporting older people are particularly vulnerable.

This theme explores both the social impact (specifically on the quality of life of older people) and financial implications of these services.  We anticipate that novel interagency partnerships between the private, public and third sector will be key to the way the Big Society is managed and that the theme will contribute to this by developing an understanding of these opportunities and how they work.

How do these link to the priorities of the major funding bodies? The theme is congruent with the RCUK, cross council theme of Ageing: Lifelong Health and Wellbeing: realising economic, social and health gains of healthy ageing while reducing dependency, costs and inequities later in life.

By way of example, the funded project exploring the quality of life during and economic downturn and financial literacy in older people highlights the economic gains of health and wellbeing in older populations.

The currently funded KTP is developing a business model for older people self funding their own care.  This is particularly relevant to reducing dependency and costs in the older population

The evaluations/tenders that fall under this theme are increasingly being asked to address the links between cost effectiveness and social impact.  Our tenders on the a) economic impact of social organisations b) interagency working: London respond to this trend through a focus on cost effectiveness of wellbeing interventions, the financial impact of social interventions and the social impact of financial investment.

The research councils, the ESRC, specifically emphasises the importance of interdisciplinary working.  Thematically and operationally our bids to date are interdisciplinary: crossing school, professional, academic discipline, academic institution and public/private/third sector boundaries.

How does this theme interlink with the other BU themes currently under consideration? Links with the Health and Wellbeing theme.

4 Responses to “Ageing (Sarah Hean)”

  1. Kirsty

    I prefer the title Wellbeing and Quality of Life across the Life Span because even if the focus is on ageing and the older adult what happens in what leads up to this stage of life can be vitally important. For example research into responses to the transition into retirement place a huge importance on how work itself is viewed. Opening this up would allow wider involvement by researchers interested in different life stages too including interactions between those at different life stages.

  2. sarah

    yep, I would be in full agreement with that. some of our work on financial behaviours with BS shows behaviours are well entrenched before people reach older age. Would be very happy to go with either welling across/through the Life Span {or is this too generic} or welling and quality of life when ageing or something similar….

  3. Lee-Ann Fenge

    I agree that this theme could embrace a consideration of ageing across the lifespan, but it really does need to major on old age in part due to national demographics, but also because of the age profile of our local demographics. There is a huge potential to pool expertise from across the university into ageing focused research activity ( this already exists in DEC and in some of the collaborative work being undertaken by HSC and the Business School). There is also the potential to develop new spheres of ageing research linked to the social capital that older people have and can bring to their communities, as well as being older consumers, tourists, etc.