Over 50s lead new research into what they aspire for their own future

University of Stirling and Age Scotland partner with trained over 50s 'community researchers'.
University of Stirling and Age Scotland partner with trained over 50s 'community researchers'.

‌Older people across Scotland are being urged to get involved in a pioneering research project that explores what they need to achieve or maintain a good life as they age.

The project is unique in that it enables people over the age of 50 to undertake research into the aspirations they – and their peers - have for their own future. Funded by the Life Changes Trust, it is a partnership between people over 50 who have been trained as “community researchers”, the University of Stirling and Age Scotland.

The research methodologies include:                                                      

  1. gathering and analysing visual representations (photographs and collages) of a good life in later years;
  2. conducting and analysing twelve focus group discussions across the country, from Orkney to the Borders;
  3. and designing a survey to be distributed across Scotland.

The survey stage, which is being launched today, (Tuesday 14th February) aims to gather the views of older people on a wide range of issues including health and wellbeing, personal independence, transport, local services, technology and housing.

The project findings will be published in a final written and video report and a series of short reports and posters on key themes later in the year.

Dr. Corinne Greasley-Adams, Research Fellow at the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Social Sciences, said:

“We are using a unique approach that blends the knowledge and skills of both community and university researchers, whilst providing a platform for new learning and experiences.

“Through this project we are demonstrating how it is possible to do research with people rather than about people that can make a real, tangible difference to their lives."

Keith Robson, Chief Executive, Age Scotland said:

“The partnership between Age Scotland, the University of Stirling and the Life Changes Trust brings together a wide range of expertise, but it’s the voice of older people that gives us a direct insight into their lives and what they believe should be done to achieve or maintain a good life.

“We aim to use our findings to influence decision makers to improve policies that support older people as they age. That’s why we are encouraging as many older people as possible to take part in the survey.”

Anna Buchanan, Director of the Life Changes Trust Dementia programme said,

“The survey stage of the project gives older people the opportunity to voice their own opinions and aspirations about what they think constitutes a good life in later years, and what is needed to achieve this. It asks what would best support people through changing needs and circumstances - for example retiring, becoming a carer or developing a long term condition like dementia.

“This project has been developed by involving older people themselves, and we plan to use important evidence from the results to influence policy development and service provision.”

Ro Pengelly, community researcher, Aberdeen group said:

“Being involved in this research project has been a pleasure because of its openness to hearing about what is happening in practice; and because of its ethos that every human is an asset, with energies and interests even when getting older. A Good Life is co-production at its best, with applied research that can then help inform policy-making within research communities, charities and governments.”

Janice Mason-Duff, community researcher, Stirling group said:

“It was a meeting of the old and the new in more ways than one! New research methods, meeting new people but at the same time using some of the old skills that I had learned in my career. I enjoyed facilitating one of the focus group sessions and being part of the wider research team. It made me feel valued in the sense that I could still contribute in a positive way to a worthwhile and relevant project.”   


Background information

People over the age of 50 can take part in the survey online at https://stirling.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/agoodlife or request a hard copy through Age Scotland,Causewayside, Edinburgh, EH9 1PR, telephone number 0333 323 2400.

Age Scotland

Age Scotland is an independent charity dedicated to ensuring that older people in Scotland get the support and opportunities they need to be able to enjoy a better later life.

Life Changes Trust

The Life Changes Trust was established by the Big Lottery in April 2013 with a ten year endowment of £50 million to support transformational improvements in the quality of life, well-being, empowerment and inclusion of people affected by dementia and young people with experience of being in care.

Our work with people with dementia has shown that the phrase “Dementia sufferers”, or using the word suffering to describe dementia has a strongly negative view from people with the condition. We would request that you avoid using the phrase in headlines or in any article you publish to combat the negative way that people with dementia feel the condition is described. 

University of Stirling

The University of Stirling is ranked fifth in Scotland and 40th in the UK for research intensity in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Stirling is committed to providing education with a purpose and carrying out research which has a positive impact on communities across the globe – addressing real issues, providing solutions and helping to shape society. Interdisciplinary in its approach, Stirling’s research informs its teaching curriculum and facilitates opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration between staff, students, industry partners and the wider community.

As Stirling celebrates 50 years, it retains a pioneering spirit and a passion for innovation. The University’s scenic central Scotland campus – complete with a loch, castle and golf course – is home to more than 12,000 students and 1500 staff representing around 120 nationalities. This includes an ever-expanding base for postgraduate study. 


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