Social Change and Wellbeing (SCWB)

Wellbeing, Ageing and Social Care Research Group

RESEARCH STRAND 1: AGEING AND QUALITY OF LIFE

Members: Baines, Fairhurst, Sixsmith

Contact person: Judith Sixsmith

Projects within this strand are linked by a particular focus on the accounts and perspectives of individuals who are ageing. Quality of life at later stages of the life course is studied by examining a range of topics which embrace matters of health and well-being to social inclusion and participation in public decision making. Most projects are located in the north west of England but there is a growing emphasis on comparative studies with European colleagues.

(a) Ageing in Place
Ageing in place has driven a strong research agenda in a number of disciplines including geography, environmental psychology, sociology and gerontology. The idea is that healthy ageing is underpinned, in part, by growing older in one’s own home and community. This has fuelled a political position which identifies ageing in place as the ‘best’ option for older people. This research area problematises the notion of ageing in place in the context of home and community.

Project example:
ENABLE-AGE: Home as a determinant for healthy living.
Funded by the European Commission. This was a cross National study of the relationship between home and healthy ageing. Qualitative and quatative methodologies were used systematically to explore this relationship in five countries ( UK , Sweden , Germany , Hungary and Latvia ).
Contact Judith Sixsmith.

Project example:
The Generation Project evaluation: Advocacy for older people.
Funded by Manchester Care and Repair. This was an evaluation of individual (case work) and collective advocacy service for older people in a deprived neighbourhood in Manchester.
Contact Judith Sixsmith.

Project example:
Volunteering, Self-Help and Citizenship in Later Life.
This was a collaborative research project with Age Concern Newcastle, funded by the Big Lottery. It was designed to draw upon experiences at Age Concern Newcastle to inform other organisations working with volunteers and to help them to understand and access the contribution of older people.
Contact Sue Baines.

Project example:
Older People, Regeneration and Health and Well-Being
Funded by the HEFCE Urban Regeneration: Making a Difference Programme. Collaborative research between MMU, UNN and University of Salford .The intention is to map out older people’s involvement in local decision making.
Contact Eileen Fairhurst.

(b) Ageing and Technology
The infiltration of technology into everyday life has progressed at a rapid pace. While technology is usually designed to improve people’s lives, the impact of technology is not always so beneficial. Research suggests that the psycho-social and organisational effects of technologies are contradictory, especially concerning the health, social care and participation of older people within society. This research grouping elaborates on the relationships and meanings of technology amongst older people and within the ageing process.

Project example:
New Dynamics of Ageing Preparatory Network on Experiences and Uses of Technology among Older people.

Funded by the ESRC. A network of academic, public service and private participants have worked on producing a cross disciplinary research proposal to explore the expierence and use of technology amongst older people.
Contact Judith Sixsmith.

Project example:
Older People’s e-services at Home (OLDES).
Funded by the European Commission (Framework 6), eleven EU partners in OLDES are working jointly to create and test new protective domestic environments for older people. There are two aspects: a ‘tele-accompany’ feature to combat isolation; and health monitoring consisting of sensors for vital functions and movement detection. Pilots are taking place in Bologna and Prague.
Contact Sue Baines.

(c) Becoming and Being Older
This research grouping starts from the premise that ageing is not ‘a problem’ but rather an ‘ordinary’ part of the life course. In much research in the field of ageing, the focus is placed on older people as a societal burden whose ‘problems of ill-health, frailty and social care’ are socially, psychologically and financially costly. However, older people have much to offer within society and the process of ageing should not be seen as an inevitable negative spiral into dependency and death. By re-focusing on ‘becoming and being older’, the realities of everyday life within the context of the ageing process becomes focus of attention for research.

Project example:
A collaborative project , and funded by Age Concern Greater
Manchester groups. The concern was to contribute to a national policy development by Age Concern England , the Millennium Debate of the Age. The research grouping
Contact Eileen Fairhurst.

Research projects under development

Improving the Oral Health of Older Denture Wearers. Collaborative research being developed between Eileen Fairhurst (RIHSC) Joanne Verran and Lisa Coulthwaite (both microbiologists at MMU) and Louise Hopper (dentist at Salford teaching PCT). Intended to submit proposal to NHS Research for Patient Benefit Programme.
Contact Eileen Fairhurst.

Women at the Interface:The Public Role of Women in British Christianity, past, Present and Future . Collaborative research being developed between Eileen Fairhurst and Carolyn Downs. Intended to submit research proposal to ESRC/AHRC programme on Religion and Society.
Contact Eileen Fairhurst.