Age Scotland and the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stirling have been funded by the Life Changes Trust to conduct research on quality of life in later years. The Life Changes Trust was established by the Big Lottery Fund in April 2013 with a National Lottery grant of £50 million to support transformational improvement in the quality of life, well-being, empowerment and inclusion of two key groups in Scotland: people affected by dementia and young people with experience of the care system.
This project, which runs from May 2016 to August 2017, will use an innovative methodology based on the principle of ‘co-production’. Co-production is different to most forms of research because, rather than seeking to carry out research ‘on’ or ‘about’ people, it seeks to conduct research ‘with’ people.
Within our project, we will provide people (aged over 50), including people living with dementia, with the necessary training and support to become “community researchers”. Community researchers will work in small teams, alongside researchers at the University of Stirling, to address the following questions:
- What is the essence of a good life in later years?
- What do older people think is needed to achieve/maintain the components of a good life?
- How might the essence of a good life differ if an individual develops a long-term condition (such as dementia) or if they become a carer?
We will work together in gathering visual representations of a good life; in running community discussions; and in developing a survey to be distributed across Scotland. Community researchers will have a central role in helping to make sense of the information gathered in the project, and in identifying the key messages that should be reported from the project. We hope that this project will help to shape future policy and practice, through supporting the voices of older people to permeate more fully in discussions about what makes a good life in later years.