What needs to change so that older people, especially those with high support needs, can have 'a better life'?
Understanding what will really help some of the most marginalised, and least heard, people in the UK - older people with high support needs.
We know that some of the most marginalised people in the UK are older and have high support needs. This five-year programme focuses on a significant challenge: how to ensure quality of life for this growing group.
Through the programme JRF is commissioning a range of work to increase our understanding of what can help older people with high support needs now and in the future, whatever setting they live in. The programme will then produce recommendations for policy and practice.
JRF has committed £1.5 million to this programme over five years (2009–2013). Please note that we do not accept speculative enquiries for funding. We issue call for proposals and invite submissions to them. There are no current calls for this programme.
Information about our work over the next year can be found here (PDF, 50KB).
Old age is not about 'them', it's about all of us. We're all heading in that direction. Some of us will need a lot of support, and many of us will experience real loss, difficulty and frustration, but we will always have our own personalities, stories, roles and relationships, likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, values and priorities. We are individual and very diverse, with hugely varying lifestyles, cultural backgrounds, expectations, financial circumstances, family composition, education, experience and resources. The things that make us all unique don't just disappear as we get older.
There's a lot of discussion by others about old age and about older people. Some of these are about older people who are 'still' able to achieve extraordinary things despite their age. But otherwise 'they' tend to be portrayed as dependents or burdens, as patients or sufferers defined by their condition, or as passive service users or care receivers. But it's those already experiencing this life stage who are the real experts. By listening to their voices and stories - which are so seldom heard directly - we can understand better what they want and value from life, not just from services. This will help us to think differently and to challenge ageist assumptions and stereotypes (our own and others').
Whatever our age and however much support we may need, we all want to, and can, live meaningful lives based on strong, personal and respectful relationships, and on giving as well as taking. Right up to the end of our lives, both our present selves and our past histories are worth understanding and celebrating.