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Care home with balloons

2017: Year in review and look ahead

Anna Dixon looks back at Ageing Better's impact and activities in 2017, as well as looking ahead to 2018.

With a new website, e-newsletter and further development of our partnerships, 2018 is set to be an exciting year for Ageing Better.

This past year has been remarkable in the development of the Centre for Ageing Better. In case you missed them, here are a few highlights from our most popular reports of the year:

  • Our review of what older workers value about work, and why they do so, called for employers to provide full and equal access to flexible working arrangements, occupational health support and appropriate workplace adaptations to help older workers manage health conditions at work.
  • A mid-life less ordinary, published with the Resolution Foundation, highlighted the plight of ‘the forgotten 50s’ – 1.8 million older low and middle-income households left struggling to save for retirement after the recent pay squeeze, despite enjoying strong employment growth over the last 20 years.
  • The early evaluation of pilots to support people through the transition to retirement, with the Gulbenkian Foundation, found that pre-retirement workshops can help to build people’s confidence and change perceptions of later life. Our survey found 1 in 5 recent retirees struggle to adjust to life after work.
  • Our report based on insights into the experiences of older job seekers in Greater Manchester and data showed that over 50s experience an ‘unemployment trap’ – they are more likely to be out of work than younger age groups, and once unemployed they struggle more than younger jobseekers to get back into employment.
  • A systematic review of home adaptations found that small changes to homes – such as installing handrails, ramps and level-access showers, alongside carrying out simple repairs – can significantly improve quality of life for those who are losing mobility, and in turn help to relieve pressure on the NHS and social care.
  • An extensive review of inequalities in later life, by Newcastle University and ILC-UK, revealed huge disparities in health, financial security, social connections and housing among people in later life, and that negative impacts accumulate across the life course. We called for measures to tackle inequality to be at the heart of policy-making across health, housing, work and pensions.

Although a significant amount was achieved in 2017, this must be the year that we seize the opportunities of an ageing society. Government will have to lead the way in rising to the challenges of an ageing society and grasp the opportunities. Here’s a quick preview of some of the things to look out for from us in 2018:

  • A report with the Pensions Policy Institute in partnership with the TUC and Age UK of the role of the state pension, including modelling the impact of alternatives to the triple-lock.
  • A report by the Chief Medical Officer’s expert review team that will provide practical recommendations for the public, practitioners and policy makers on what physical activities are most effective in increasing strength and balance, improving people’s long-term health and wellbeing and reducing the risk of falls.
  • A report and photographic study looking at the lived experience of individuals with declining mobility, including how they navigate their homes and the home adaptations they have had installed. And the results of the call for practice with Care & Repair to find examples of where local areas are delivering home adaptations and organising services in the most effective ways.
  • A series of insight reports with actions that employers and recruiters can take to make a positive difference to their older employees, including supporting flexible working, preventing age bias in recruitment and maximising the benefits of mixed age teams.

We are about much more than publishing interesting reports. Our mission is to bring about changes in society that improve people’s experiences of later life. That’s why we work with others to implement change informed by the evidence and seek to influence others to act on what we learn.

Our partnerships are key to this. Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) under elected Mayor Andy Burnham is showing great leadership in using its devolved powers to create the first age-friendly city region in the UK. Working with our most recent strategic partners, Leeds City Council and Leeds Older People’s Forum, we have already catalysed thinking and action on new approaches to community transport and have plans to work together on community action and volunteering, and housing in 2018. We will continue to support and champion the work of the UK Network of Age-friendly Communities, working closely with these 20 areas, from Bristol to Belfast, which have made a commitment to make their communities age-friendly. We’re also working with Design Council to help transform people’s experience of ageing through a community and design led approach. We continued our partnership with the Business in the Community Age at Work campaign, where we joined the rest of the leadership team led by Andy Briggs in setting out an ambitious aim to enable a million more older workers to be in good quality, fulfilling work over the next five years.

We also engage with national policy-makers, and were pleased to see the inclusion of a Grand Challenge on Ageing in the Government’s Industrial Strategy, recognition in the Housing White Paper that new homes need to be built to meet the needs of an ageing population and commitments in the budget to the Disabled Facilities Grant. In 2018 we also plan to pilot with GMCA and DWP new approaches to employment support for people over 50. We will continue working with Housing LIN to influence a wide range of housing audiences to ensure current and new housing is suitable for our ageing population.

We start the year with a brand new website. We hope you like it. It will help us continue reaching and engaging with our many and diverse audiences, and provide a platform for our impactful work we have planned for 2018 and beyond.

We also recently launched a new Research and Policy e-newsletter giving monthly updates on the latest research on ageing. If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to sign up.

Thank you for all your support over the last year. We look forward to continuing to engage with you and share our evidence, insights and ideas as to how we can together create a society where everyone enjoys a good later life.

To find out more about Ageing Better’s activities, read the 2016-17 Annual review.

Anna Dixon
Chief Executive