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Older people, wellbeing and participation

The University of Brighton and Age UK Brighton & Hove have been collaborating on a programme of participatory research since 2007. We have worked with older people as co-researchers, most recently focusing on experiences of wellbeing and what this means to older people.

With funding from the ESRC we have been working with practitioners from statutory and voluntary services as well as with older people, to produce learning resources to increase awareness of the factors that contribute to wellbeing in later life, and to develop good practice in older people's participation. The learning resources draw on collaborative research we carried out with a team of older co-researchers. It was designed to enable older people to talk in their own terms about what well-being means to them, and how it is produced. So the resources are based not only on what we found out about older people and wellbeing, but what we learnt from working with older people and with practitioners to generate and apply knowledge for policy and practice.

The resources comprise a film and accompanying handbook. We worked with a professional production company to create scripted scenarios based on interviews. In the film these are acted to highlight key points identified by our interviewees and to illustrate how social care workers might help people to think through some of the challenges they face as they grow older. In these learning resources we invite you to think about what person-centred care means in practice. They are designed to help anyone who works with older people to maximize well-being in old age.

You can watch the film online and download the handbook for use in presentations or training events. The handbook accompanies the film and provides more detailed explanations of the issues we explore through acted scenarios. It also lists questions that you can use to reflect more on these issues and suggests where you can go for more information.

Watch our film and download the handbook

Watch our film and download the handbook

You can also download the wellbeing research report:

Our team of older co-researchers have produced a booklet for other older people based on this work:

As Time Goes By... Thoughts on Wellbeing in Later Years (pdf 2.3Mb) As Time Goes By... Thoughts on
Wellbeing in Later Years (pdf 2.3Mb)

The project is led by Professor Marian Barnes and Dr Lizzie Ward from the School of Applied Social Science and Dr Beatrice Gahagan, Senior Manager, Age UK Brighton & Hove.

Other publications based on this work:

Barnes, M., Taylor, D. and Ward, L. (in press) 'Being well enough in old age' Critical Social Policy

Ward, L. and Gahagan, B. (2012) 'Empowering Engagement? Involving older people in research' in M. Barnes and P. Cotterell (eds) Critical Perspectives on User Involvement. Bristol; Policy Press.

Ward, L. and Gahagan, B. (2010) 'Crossing the Divide between Theory and Practice: research and an Ethic of Care'. Ethics and Social Welfare 4 (2) 210 - 216.

If you would like to find out more about our work, please get in touch with Lizzie Ward,


Learning resources

View our new resources

We have recently published an online film and handbook based on our research into how people might think about sustaining wellbeing as they grow older.
Watch our film and download the handbook