Age-inclusive services: what do older people want to say?

Holland, Caroline (2012). Age-inclusive services: what do older people want to say? In: IFA 11th Global Conference on Ageing: Ageing Connects, 28 May - 1 Jun 2012, Prague, Czech Republic.


If mainstreaming age-friendly and age-appropriate policies at all levels of activity is seen necessarily to involve "making older persons’ concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes" (ECOSOC, as cited in the Madrid Framework, 2008) then the question arises,how do we know what ‘older persons, in all their diversity, actually want and prioritise? What methods are effective in engaging older people in these activities? Choice and self determination are often cited as essential elements in inclusion, and in many countries there have been moves to personalization agendas emphasising individual choice.
Yet in practice individuality is difficult to work with because it requires time and resources to establish individuals’ concerns, and service delivery is not often geared to accommodate individuals’ complexities without also obliterating expressions of collective experience and mutual interest. The challenge is to engage with older people, drawing on their individual experiences, concerns and expressions of preference, and translating this information into actionable principles for ‘older people’ in general. Experience from work with other groups shows that this is far from simple as different aspects of individuals’ identity come to the fore at different times: and in the case of age, multiple constructions (chronology, cohort, biological etc.) call for a more nuanced understanding of age as a category.
This paper draws upon several research studies in the UK looking at older people’s experience and preferences and reflects on methods of engagement with them. These include a cohort of soon-to-be older Jewish people considering later life accommodation; older people with high support needs; older people with dementia; older people engaging with new technologies. The paper discusses ways of engaging older people in discussions about future well-being, and asks how best to work towards inclusion.

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