Take part in a good life in later years

What do we understand as a good life in our later years?

This is the central question in a current research project, 30 community researchers across Scotland are currently working to find out what the essence of a good life is and what older people need to achieve and/or maintain a good life.

The project will also explore how quality of life differs for people with a long term condition, like dementia, as well as older people who become carers for a partner, relative or friend.

We aim to use our findings to influence decision makers to improve policies that support older people as they age.

Our community researchers have used a number of methods to gather this information, including focus groups, which have involved people from across the country.  Key ‘quality of life’ themes that have emerged from these meetings include:

  • personal independence
  • health and wellbeing
  • care and support
  • mobility and transport
  • relationships
  • technology
  • services
  • communities
  • the role of older people in society.

To involve and engage as many older people as possible and to gain further insight we have developed a survey which will be distributed across Scotland. You can contribute to the project by completing the questionnaire online (link is external).

The project has proven an enriching experience from both academic and community researchers alike

Dr. Corinne Greasley-Adams, Research Fellow at the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Social Sciences, said: 

“We are using a unique approach that blends the knowledge and skills of both community and university researchers, whilst providing a platform for new learning and experiences. 

“Through this project we are demonstrating how it is possible to do research with people rather than about people that can make a real, tangible difference to their lives.”

Ro Pengelly, community researcher, Aberdeen group said:

“Being involved in this research project has been a pleasure because of its openness to hearing about what is happening in practice; and because of its ethos that every human is an asset, with energies and interests even when getting older. A Good Life is co-production at its best, with applied research that can then help inform policy-making within research communities, charities and governments.”

Janice Mason Duff, community researcher, Stirling group said:

“It was a meeting of the old and the new in more ways than one! New research methods, meeting new people but at the same time using some of the old skills that I had learned in my career. I enjoyed facilitating one of the focus group sessions and being part of the wider research team. It made me feel valued in the sense that I could still contribute in a positive way to a worthwhile and relevant project.”  

We encourage you to share the questionnaire with relative, friends and colleagues to help us get as broad a response as possible.

Paper copies of the questionnaire can be received by emailing agoodlife@stir.ac.uk (link sends e-mail) or calling the Age Scotland Policy Team on 0333 323 2400.

The findings will be summarised in a final written and video report, and a series of short reports and posters on key themes.  We will also produce a toolkit to support similar projects in the future.

The report will be published in autumn 2017.

Toni’s research on Shapinsay

A few weeks ago, Toni Guigliano, Policy Engagement and Campaign’ offer at Age Scotland, visited Shapinsay in the Orkney Isles to carry out a focus group with older people in the Islands to discuss their experiences of what makes a good life.  Here are some of Toni’s reflections from his visit.

Earlier this month the Quality of Life Project took me to Shapinsay in Orkney. It was a unique opportunity to gather the views of older people about what makes a good life in later years in a rural and remote part of the country.

I was humbled by the extremely warm welcome I received by the organisers and participants. I was picked up from the ferry terminal in the community electric car and whisked along to the “Boathouse” – a fantastic community space where we were protected from the ultra-strong winds (which locals told me were not, in fact, that strong at all!).

In total, eight residents took part in the discussions, which explored several themes, including health and wellbeing, the importance of a close-knit community, relationships, care, transport, personal independence and the role of older people in society.

It was particularly interesting to hear about the work of the Shapinsay Development Trust and the activities and services it runs to improve the lives of people on the island, including social activities to combat loneliness and isolation. The Sew Shapinsay project, for example, is a great social activity bringing many people together.

Whilst in Orkney I took the opportunity to visit the Age Scotland office in Kirkwall to discuss the Scottish Government’s Social Security Consultation and how the proposed changes are likely to impact older people. We received a number of responses which will help shape our submission later this month. For more information on this, see the relevant pages of our website.

Project focus groups



During October and November we will be running focus groups across Scotland to explore what contributes to a good life in later years for older people in Scotland.  Focus groups are being run in a variety of locations, so there’s a good chance there will be one reasonably close to you.

Focus groups are being held in the following locations

Shapinsay  4th October.  The Boathouse.  Shapinsay  KW17 2DY
Orkney  To be announced
Irvine  11th  October.  Vennel Centre.  Irvine.  KA12 0BQ
Stirling. 18th October.  University of Stirling.  FK9 4LA
Galashiels 19th October.  Venue to be announced
Perth  12th October.  Perth Museum and Art Gallery.  78 George Street.  Perth PH1 5LB
Aberdeen  To be announced

Further locations are to be confirmed, and further details will be added to this page.

If you would like to attend any of the focus groups, or would like more information about the focus groups, including locations and dates, please contact us at agoodlife@stir.ac.uk

A flyer giving more details about the focus groups can be found at the following link focusgroupflyerwebsite

Welcome to the ‘a good life in later years’ project



In this first post, we are launching the website for the ‘A Good Life in Later Years’ project.  This project is being hosted by the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stirling in collaboration with Age Scotland, and is being funded by the Life Changes Trust.  The overall goal of the project is to explore what makes up the essence of a good life for people in Scotland in their later years.  In doing so we hope to give older people the opportunity to voice their own opinions and aspirations about the essence of a good life, what they think is needed to achieve a good life, and how their needs might differ in the face of a lot of the experiences that emerge for people in their later years (such as retiring, becoming a carer, developing a long term condition or moving home).

To answer these questions, our project takes a novel approach, where instead of just asking older people what is important to them in later life, we are actually asking older people to get involved in setting the questions and finding out the answers to them themselves. To do this, we are using a methodology called ‘co-production’.  Co-production is being used both in research and in the development of health and social care services, and involves the development of projects in which all those involved are seen as equal partners.  What this means in practice, is that rather than just being ‘participants’ in the project, those taking part in this project are seen as volunteers with equal status with the researchers.  If you volunteer to take part, you will be trained to carry out several forms of research.  Then, with facilitation from university researchers, you will go out into your own community to carry out research about what makes up a good life in later years.  We will help the community researchers to collect data and assist them to analyse this data in order to identify the important elements and themes.  We will then together use this data to develop a survey about quality of life in older age which will be distributed across Scotland in conjunction with Age Scotland in 2017. As co-researchers, volunteers will be involved in all stages of this project. The results of the project will be shared with a number of organisations, including the Scottish Government, local authorities, local health and social care services, and Scottish charities and community organisations. We also hope that by the end of the project community researchers will have developed the skills in order to carry out their own small scale research projects, which can then be used to inform developments within their own communities.

This blog will act as a focal point for the ‘A Good Life in Later Years’ project. At the beginning we will use this blog to inform people about the project and how to take part. As the project moves forward, we hope this blog will become a focal point for our community researchers, through which they can share their experiences of carrying out research and discuss the project findings as they develop. We will keep this blog regularly updated with the latest news about the project, about its findings and outputs, and also about the process of carrying out co-produced research from all the partners involved in the project.