Neighbourhood support for older people in the community

University of Manchester researchers have published a report advising how to best develop neighbourhood support for older people.

A new report from social scientists linked with the Manchester Urban Ageing Research Group and the Alliance Manchester Business School recommends a range of new approaches for developing neighbourhood support for older people.

The report is the result of an ambitious two-year project which tested the potential of adapting an approach known in the USA as the Village model. Villages are defined as self-governing, community-based organizations developed with the sole purpose of enabling people to remain in their own homes and neighbourhoods as they age.

The researchers tested this approach in two Manchester neighbourhoods: the Brunswick Estate and Levenshulme. The project developed a participatory research design, underpinned by an ethnographic approach, which involved the research team working with residents together with a range of neighbourhood and city stakeholders.

The team developed projects with a variety of groups in Brunswick and Levenshulme, working with individuals from a range of social and ethnic backgrounds. The work developed a variety of interventions on health-related issues, assisted with promoting new skills amongst older people and project participants, and worked to strengthen social networks within the communities involved.

The report produced a range of recommendations to support the development of ‘age-friendly’ work in Manchester. These included:

  • expanding social infrastructures such as community spaces and facilities;
  • extending activity to improve mental and physical health;
  • aligning health work with urban regeneration;
  • strengthening community work as a pre-condition for developing age-friendly activities;
  • expanding the role of ‘anchor institutions’ (such as the University) within local neighbourhoods;
  • developing new forms of community empowerment giving people greater control over the organisations (local, regional and national) influencing their lives.

The lead researchers for the work were: Mhorag Goff (AMBS), Patty Doran (Cathie Marsh/MICRA) and Chris Phillipson (Sociology/MICRA).

The work was funded by Manchester City Council, Manchester Health and Social Care Commissioning, the Faculty of Humanities Strategic Investment Fund, and the Office for Social Responsibility.

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