Michael Murray, Keele University
Thomas Scharf, Keele University
Sian Maslin-Prothero, Keele University
Roger Beech, Keele University
Friederike Ziegler, Keele University
Jan Bailey, Keele University
Sharon Middling, Keele University
Amanda Crummett, Field Worker
Partners and collaborators
'Valuing Older People' Team
Manchester City Council and partner organisations
Aims and objectives
The aims of the project were
to clarify the issues older people resident in disadvantaged communities themselves identify as important regarding social engagement and independence
to assess the impact of different community initiatives on active ageing
to identify the particular social and psychological processes involved in promoting active ageing through such community initiatives
to develop policy recommendations for promoting active ageing in disadvantaged communities
Somali Women’s Support Group, Moss Side
The study adopted a participatory action design. This involved a cycle of research, encompassing
agenda setting (assessing community concerns, collecting basic data)
planning (facilitating development of objectives, helping to develop an action plan)
implementation (action coupled with monitoring the process, communicating information)
outcome (assessing community competence, detecting community outcomes, developing new action plans)
The cycle of research and action were built around four different forms of community initiative. This maximised the opportunity to clarify the underlying processes involved in engaging with older people resident in disadvantaged areas and the particular character of different forms of social action.
The types of community initiative have been chosen not only because they build on existing work within the study communities, but also because of their contrasting approaches to social engagement and their potential policy relevance.
The initiatives are
a community welfare advice initiative
a community arts initiative
a community health technology initiative
a community health initiative
Through comparative work the project explored the interconnection between the social and health aspects of wellbeing among groups of older people.
Four Seasons Garden Group, Cheatham
The research was based in multiply disadvantaged neighbourhoods in East Manchester. The city of Manchester represented an ideal setting for the study, given the presence of a variety of initiatives, which aimed to promote health and community wellbeing. However, these initiatives were often disconnected and had limited formal evaluation.
The project recruited around 200 people aged 60 and over from two East Manchester wards (encompassing four distinct neighbourhoods).
All participants were resident in their own homes, and were accessed through statutory and voluntary agencies operating in the area.
Initial study participants were encouraged to participate in further recruitment so that the study could engage with particularly isolated older people.
Young at Heart Group, Ardwick
Each study area was initially assigned to a particular community initiative. In each area, the project began with a series of community meetings to explain the project and to involve residents in the further design of the project.
After clarifying the aims of the study, participants were invited to more formal group discussions. This gave participants the opportunity to detail their views and expectations of the project. Collection of both qualitative and quantitative data relating to participants’ quality of life, their social engagement, and community perceptions, occurred at the beginning and close of each community initiative.
Group discussions were audio- or video-recorded, and recordings were used at the close of each initiative as part of the review discussion.
Moss Side Community Garden Group
The project aimed to ensure community involvement in the design and implementation of the various initiatives. Each community established a local project committee that included members of the research team and older participants, and coordinated the local project.
During each project, there were opportunities for the committee and the wider community of older people to review the project’s progress.
Alongside an overall project coordinating committee, local project committees played a key role in ongoing data analysis. This process encouraged local communities to take ownership of the activity and of the research.
The research was designed to have community, policy and theoretical implications. Outputs were aimed at both academic and a range of ‘user’ audiences.
The research generated new knowledge about the substantive issues addressed by the study and by its innovative methods.
The project looked to promote the development and sustainability of community initiatives with diverse groups of older people. Community residents and partners were involved in discussion about potential research outputs. Outputs are likely to include forums in each of the study areas to discuss the findings and to consider plans for extending the initiatives.
The research team worked closely with partners in Manchester to encourage the design of policies and practices that can improve the quality of older people’s lives. A wider audience of policy makers will be targeted through workshops, aimed at informing the ongoing development of Manchester City Council’s ageing strategy.