Category Archives: Communities and inclusion

Understanding the importance of wellbeing in later life

This graph highlights the average wellbeing score for older people across each indicator.

The average wellbeing score for older people across each indicator

This blog post was contributed by Dr Marcus Green, Social and Economic Research Manager, at Age UK.  

There can be a difference between how we say we are when asked “how are you doing?” and how we really are – through our research, we have found this to be true. As a charity trying to help older people lead fulfilling later lives, Age UK needs an accurate assessment of how older people are doing in order to support them towards this, which goes beyond a subjective measure of life satisfaction and happiness. Continue reading

Combating loneliness together

Jo Cox

Jo Cox MP

The brilliant children’s story writer Judith Kerr, now in her 90’s, has commented that the problem with being widowed is ‘not that there’s nobody to do things with, it’s that there’s nobody to do nothing with. You have to make some plan for the day otherwise there’s this shapeless emptiness.’ Her words, as usual, are precise and cut straight to the heart of the issue (as well as appealing straight to the heart) and also apply to loneliness more broadly.

Having ‘nobody to do nothing with’ affects more of us than we ever knew. So many of us are lonely in fact that it doesn’t feel an exaggeration to call it a crisis. Age UK research has found that half a million people over the age of 60 usually spend every day alone, with nearly half a million more often going at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all. Continue reading

Guest blog: Volunteers improving the quality of life of older residents in care homes

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This guest post was contributed by Kristen Stephenson, Volunteering Development Manager, at NCVO

The Volunteering in Care Homes’ Project was a three year pilot project funded by the Department of Health to evaluate the impact of volunteers on the quality of life of older residents in care homes. The evaluation showed a profound impact on the social and emotional wellbeing aspects of quality of life and quality of care for older residents.

  • 96% of staff and volunteers reported a positive impact on the social contact that residents had
  • 90% of staff and volunteers recorded that they thought volunteers had a positive impact on residents’ feeling of safety
  • for relatives, additional eyes and ears contributed to their peace of mind

Continue reading

Influencing People, Power & Place

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This blog was contributed by Emily Georghiou, local influencing adviser, at Age UK. 

On 1 September, the Age UK network came back from the summer break with a bang. A packed room – of local Age UK partners, Age UK staff, Lord Filkin (Chair of the Centre for Ageing Better) and experts from local government – gathered together at our 2016 Influencing Conference.

Our theme was ‘How to win friends and influence people’ – particularly those people with the power to help us deliver a better future for our ageing society

In an increasingly devolved and localised context, it is crucial for our network of variously sized local Age UKs (160+ of them) and partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to have a shared understanding of our operating context.  Our annual get together is an important opportunity for the network to realise its unique strength – its national oversight and local presence – and the partnership’s potential to support the UK to be a great place to grow older.

In the context of increasing pressure on resources and threats to local services, ‘influencing’ can feel like a nicetohave.  Yet it is crucial that we’re able to speak truth to power about the reality and challenges of later life in the UK from our unique position of expertise and understanding.

As well as relationships and connectivity being key to ageing well, one theme which ran through the day was the fundamental importance of place.  It is important that wherever we live and whatever our age, we can access the essentials of a good life.  As the conference explored, there is a real need to connect, communicate and collaborate to remove the barriers which older people face to living well and contributing to community resilience.

Our Age Friendly Places guide has been developed as a tool for dialogue and leadership in local communities – recognising the need for a place based approach, joined up solutions and the role that the voluntary sector and older people themselves can play, if enabled.  With an increasingly diverse and ageing population, it is more important than ever that we maintain health, wellbeing and independence into later life (today or tomorrow) and live in places which support all of us to:

  • have opportunities to enjoy life and feel well
  • participate in society and feel valued for our contribution;
  • have enough money to live well
  • feel safe, comfortable and secure at home, connected to our communities
  • able to live an active lifestyle and access quality health and care

Some of the solutions to more effective partnerships with people and places may lie in technological solutions – helping us connect, collaborate and communicate more effectively.  It was perhaps then a fitting end to the day that our final speaker was from Change.org the digital campaigners “world platform for change”.  Her top tips for campaigning success were to always:

1) Make it personal

2) Build a community

3) Think small to build a big movement.

Wise words for any successful influencing initiative.

As we heard from our speakers- with ongoing austerity, Brexit Britain in the balance and a UK still not ready for ageing – the challenges are many and the jeopardy far too great for those who won’t win the ageing-well lottery.  That is why we must all play our part in influencing people, power and places to shape the future we all want – wherever we live and whoever we are – a great place to grow older.

Read our Age friendly places guide to support local dialogue in your community