New project to help develop age-friendly communities in a post pandemic world
An innovative research project, led by the University of Salford, will provide new insight into how best to support older people’s social connections as the UK enters the next phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over 24 months, the project will gather a body of evidence to inform initiatives actively supporting older people to remain connected with the world around them. It will use the City of Salford in Greater Manchester as a case study to advance knowledge and practice of creating and maintaining age-friendly places.
The work is funded by The Dunhill Medical Trust and is being completed by a partnership led by the University of Salford with Inspiring Communities Together, and Manchester Metropolitan University.
Professor Andrew Clark, from the University of Salford’s School of Health and Society, said: “The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on UK life. Older people in particular are reported to have been disproportionately negatively affected by the disease and the restrictions imposed to limit its risks. This includes reduced physical activity and, potentially, heightened isolation.
“However, we do not yet know the full impact of the pandemic on the ability of older people to remain socially connected to the places where they live, nor do we understand how age-friendly initiatives can facilitate older people’s ongoing engagement and, where necessary, support their re-connection with others. This project will seek to answer some of those questions so that we can provide the best possible support for our older people.”
The project will address three questions:
- How have older people made connections within and around their environments during the pandemic, and what can we learn from this as we move out of it?
- What has the impact of Covid-19 been on older people and their living environments; and how can this be accounted for in the development and adaption of new and existing support activities?
- How have activities for older people changed, and what will this look like as the UK moves through later phases of Covid-19 and beyond?
Older people will be involved in all stages of the project, from contributing ideas and sharing their experiences, to working as co-researchers on the team. They will be supported to undertake an assessment of how age-friendly activities adapt in an emerging post-pandemic UK using an age-friendly standards toolkit. The group will also work with the project team to host a series of 'Conversations about Ageing' with service providers, policy makers and other older people.
The research project is one of eight to be funded by The Dunhill Medical Trust through the Building and Delivering Suitable Living Environments and Communities for an Ageing Population programme.
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