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:
- gathering and analysing visual representations (photographs and collages) of a good life in later years;
- conducting and analysing twelve focus group discussions across the country, from Orkney to the Borders;
- 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.”