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.