During the financial year 22/23 each Ageing Better partnership has a Good Practice Mentor role/s so that they can continue to share and support the learning and approaches developed by Ageing Better both locally and nationally.
Please take a look at what our partnerships, volunteers and participants in Greater Manchester and Bristol have to say about the value of embedding micro-funding in their programmes.
Community Connector film
The following video explores experiences of people aged over 50 involved in Community Connector and Social Prescribing type schemes and the positive effects on their lives at two of our partnerships in Cheshire and Thanet.
The Centre for Ageing Better
We have awarded a ten-year, £50 million endowment to The Centre for Ageing Better. Their aim is to support a good quality of life in older age and promote the benefits of an ageing society by bridging the gap between research, evidence and practice. The Centre is part of the What Works Network in England.
Ageing Better is gathering evidence of what works to support people aged over 50 who are at risk of experiencing social isolation and loneliness, and use it to improve the design of future services across the UK.
We have appointed a partnership of Evaluators to produce a series of learning and evidence reports from across the 14 partnerships. Led by Ecorys UK, the partnership includes Bryson Purdon Social Research LLP and Professor Christina Victor, from the Brunel Institute for Ageing Studies at Brunel University.
The Ageing Better programme, working with its partner Kaleidoscope Health and Care, and Kate Jopling are planning a range of participatory events to launch national evaluation reports and programme learning.
TheAgeing Better Summative Report, an independent research report, provides an overview of the seven year programme. It explores the overarching findings from across the programme in four key areas: reach, the difference it made for individuals, changes made to organisations, and how it contributed to wider system change. The principles which led to successful approaches within the programme are also detailed including test and learn, co-production and partnership working. It then provides recommendations for those Organisations, Local Authorities, Commissioners and Funders working to address loneliness and social isolation among people over 50.
The Ageing Better Summative Report: Methods Note accompanies the Ageing Better Summative report. It summarises the research approach, details the data collection methods used, and presents the full data tables referenced in the report. It also provides a statement on research ethics and data protection, and concludes with a glossary of terms associated with the report.
Impact Evaluation Report (January 2022)
The Impact Evaluation Report explores evidence gathered from the Ageing Better local partnership areas during the first five years of the programme’s operation (October 2015-March 2020) and examines whether Ageing Better activities improved people’s social contact, wellbeing, and loneliness.
The Evaluation found Ageing Better engaged almost 150,000 people and made measurable improvements in participants’ social contact and wellbeing.
Evidence throughout the evaluation backs up the value of the core approaches built into the Ageing Better programme - the importance of engaging people over 50 in co-design and co-production, and shifting the narrative on ageing from 'deficit' to a 'strengths-based' approach.
Our evidence suggests that offering different ways to take part helped a wide range of people get involved in the programme. Ageing Better engaged a higher proportion of older people from ethnic minorities, older LGBTQ+ people, and more lonely people than there were among the over-50 population in local partnership areas.
The Methods note accompanies the Ageing Better Impact Evaluation report. It provides data tables and explains the methodology for the quantitative strands of research carried out as part of the national evaluation.
COVID19: Rapid Reports – Response and Longer Term Recovery
The Ageing Better programme has responded to the impact of COVID19 by dramatically redesigning projects and support to ensure that the impact of the pandemic on marginalised and vulnerable communities of people aged over 50 is minimised. The programme has worked closely with its evaluation partners to produce a series of rapid reports into the impact of the pandemic on the communities it supports and the strategies our partnerships have undertaken to support people and maintain social connections at a time of physical distancing.
Using the ‘age-friendly’ concept to drive system change in communities and place (April 2022)
This independent evaluation report explores how the Ageing Better partnerships took forward work to develop more ‘age-friendly’ services, support, places and communities and how they made their communities more age-friendly. It shares reflections on the process of implementing these projects, and sets out how these projects led to changes in practice and whether these are sustainable. It also sets out recommendations for using these approaches.
This method note paper accompanies the report and sets out the methods used by the Ageing Better national evaluation team to conduct the research on age-friendly activities.
Supporting meaningful connections through Social Prescribing (March 2022)
Ageing Better invested in a wide variety of community connector projects delivered by the Ageing Better partnerships. This independent evaluation report explores the evidence and insights from those projects and sets out our recommendations which are relevant to those involved in social prescribing or community connecting. It explores the benefits of these approaches for individuals in supporting social connections, physical and mental health, and wellbeing. It also shares reflections on the process of implementing these projects and sets out how these projects led to changes in practice and whether these are sustainable.
This Methods Note accompanies the report. It summarises the research approach, details the data collection methods used, and presents the full data tables referenced in the report.
Transport Paper (February 2022)
This Transport paper brings together evidence from the Ageing Better partnerships across England, providing insights into how to make travel more inclusive and to encourage active travel among people over 50.
Micro-funding: Empowering Communities to Create Grassroots Change (March 2020)
Micro-funding empowers people over 50 to lead the decision making and running of activities, putting them in control in their communities. Involvement improves confidence, wellbeing and social connections.
The full report explores in detail the micro-funding approaches taken by Ageing Better partnerships, some of the challenges and benefits of this approach. This is supplemented by a technical annex which explains the research approach. The report summary is also available as an overview of the learning from the micro-funding approaches.
Engaging Marginalised People Over 50 (January 2020)
This report explores how our partnerships have engaged people over 50 in their programmes, particularly looking at the challenges of engaging the most marginalised groups (Black and Minority Ethnic, Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender+, carers, those living alone, those with a disability and men), with some practical ideas about how to engage with them.
There is also an accompanying technical report which sets out the data collection methodology and research ethics.
Groups at Risk of Marginalisation (October 2018)
This report explores how the programme is supporting marginalised groups (Black Minority Ethic, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender+, carers and those living alone) to improve their lives.
Community Connector schemes (October 2018)
This report explores mechanisms used to identify isolated people aged over 50 and help them to transition from away from being isolated through structured, person-centred support.
National Evaluation learning report (July 2018) This report shares some early lessons from the 14 partnerships, including statistics on reach and engagement.
Our programme briefing summarises what we have learnt about people aged over 50, social isolation and loneliness to date. It looks at the challenges that we and our partnerships have faced and what we are doing to address them in the second half of the programme.
Our Ageing Better evaluation and learning has fed into the Fund’s Evidence Library which also collates insights from across all our programmes, and is a great resource if you want to learn more about what our grants have achieved and to plan future projects.
Ageing Better in Birmingham supports citizens and communities to work together with the voluntary sector to address loneliness and isolation and its underlying causes. As well as working across the city, they focus on supporting carers and the LGBT community.
Bristol Ageing Better
Bristol Ageing Better (BAB) is working to make Bristol a brilliant place to grow old. By influencing city decision makers, wellbeing services and intergenerational activities, BAB is working together to make the city more age friendly.
Working in Cheshire West and Chester, Brightlife inspires and enable individuals and communities to understand and act to reduce social isolation whilst capturing unique insights. Key activities include social prescribing, engagement and volunteering, positive communications and marketing.
Ageing Better in Camden
Ageing Better in Camden is a partnership of older people and Camden organizations, drawing on existing skills and resources to create meaningful connections and stronger communities.
Connect Hackney is working with the diverse communities of Hackney to help over 50s stay connected and active. Their work includes a Media Group, and Community Connectors service offering one-to-one sessions to help build confidence, motivation and access to social activities.
Manchester: Ambition for Ageing
Ambition for Ageing is supporting the development of 25 age friendly neighbourhoods across eight local authority districts in Greater Manchester. From this work, they have developed a series of larger programmes that test approaches to building connection and reducing isolation at scale.
Isle of Wight: Age Friendly Island
Led by Age UK IW and working with WHO’s Age Friendly Cities, Age Friendly Island is made up of organisations committed to building a community that values, respects, engages and actively supports older people, with the voice of older residents at the heart.
Time to Shine Leeds
Established by Leeds Older People's Forum, Time to Shine fund a wide range of projects, with a specific focus on the most marginalised such as BAME, men, LGBT and older people with a disability, aiming to make Leeds a great place to grow old.
Leicester Ageing Together
A community and voluntary sector partnership with older people at its heart, Leicester Ageing Together is bringing people together and building flourishing communities in some of the most diverse and deprived areas of Leicester.
Ageing Better Middlesbrough
Ageing Better Middlesbrough works alongside older people to create welcoming community groups, provide accessible information on activities and opportunities and offer personalised support to those who are the most lonely and isolated.
Age Better Sheffield
Age Better in Sheffield is helping to make Sheffield a city that everyone can all be proud to grow older in. Their mission is to support individuals to develop positive and meaningful connections with others.
Talk, Eat, Drink in East Lindsey
Talk, Eat, Drink (T.E.D.) in East Lindsey works to identify the good provision that is happening through existing groups and facilities and helps to develop and promote them through the involvement of older people and local organisations.
Ageless Thanet use older people’s experiences to deliver activities, a community hub for older people in Margate and access to support during moments of crisis in later life. Their Age Friendly Business programme challenges how older people are seen within our community.
Ageing Well Torbay
Ageing Well Torbay is developing a social ecosystem to reduce social isolation and loneliness. It comprises of asset based community development in neighbourhoods, strengthening relationships and connectivity through social prescribing, mental wellbeing peer support, financial resilience and digital inclusion. The programme is increasingly led, designed and co-produced by people over 50.
Ageing Better has produced this short animation giving background to the programme and sharing our learning and approach from 7 years of delivery.
Ageing Better national learning can be segmented into three clearly defined areas: context, connections and ecosystem.
These three interconnected segments build a picture of the macro and micro factors, services and support systems, that help us to better understand loneliness and social isolation in people aged over 50. And how they work together.
We have produced a range of learning reports on a variety of themes from delivery to date. Reflecting on this learning we have identified a series of common principles that recur and run throughout the programme. The learning from Ageing Better suggests it is these principles that underpin successful approaches to tackling social isolation in people aged 50+.
This report explores the role played by Positive Mental Health in relation to social isolation and loneliness in people aged 50+. It goes on to highlight the importance of and the impact that someone feeling part of a network and community plays in reducing social isolation and loneliness
Delivering digitally became a significant feature of the Ageing Better response from March 2020 onwards as Covid-19 significantly reduced the number of things that were possible to achieve without digital access. Digital delivery can help people who may struggle to get out because of caring responsibilities, transport difficulties, their own mobility or external conditions like the weather. Crucially this means that having “opened the door” to this group of people and with the increased opportunities it presents for social connection, digital platforms will play an ongoing part of future delivery models.
Bridging the Digital Divide – Learning from Ageing Better
Many Ageing Better programmes and delivery partners have worked hard to continue to deliver as many elements of their previous face-to-face offers as possible but in different ways. These include telephone support as well as digital offers. The impact of Covid-19 may be long lasting and considerable and for many people making the transition from being offline to being online would be enormously beneficial for a wide range of practical and social reasons.
Our “Bridging the Digital Divide” report identified the different groups of people struggling to access digital content, the barriers they faced and insights from across Ageing Better on how to respond.
The transition to digital platforms, has, however been hugely beneficial to some groups. It has allowed people who were house bound and socially isolated either as a result of mental and physical challenges or caring responsibilities to be a more active participant in groups and activities and therefore more connected than they had been before
In this briefing we explore the advantages which digital has brought to projects and participants in enabling groups of people to meet, helping people to feel connected and supported in new and evolving ways during Covid-19.
In all of our learning, one of the core principles which has emerged throughout is the need to be person centred. This learning paper explores more about what it means to work in a person centred way and outlines the elements needed to deliver in this way.
Our learning from Ageing Better is that active participation in some form of shared social experience has a wide range of positive benefits to people’s levels of social isolation, loneliness and overall wellbeing. People who are part of a group(s) can be “buffered” against some of the risk factors for social isolation. Additionally groups are an important exit route and “connection” into other things for people. We have also heard that being a member of and feeling part of a group provides people with some resilience when they experience one or more further risk factors for social isolation such as bereavement, ill health etc.
The reasons for entrenched social isolation and loneliness are complex and personal to an individual. Those who are the most socially isolated will need some level of one-to-one support to help connect them to activities, services or opportunities that are right for them locally. This “connector” role has emerged as being a fundamental role within Ageing Better and as a model capable of evolving to meet the challenges of the last few years.
Telephone Befriending – Learning from Ageing Better
The majority of delivery within Ageing Better to date has been via face-to-face activity but once the Covid-19 crisis happened, areas quickly reconfigured services so as to be able to deliver as much as possible via telephone.
The aim of this report is to quickly share what we are finding works and what pitfalls to try and avoid. We will aim to update the learning as we progress through the Covid-19 shut down and as new learning emerges.
Ageing Better has an underpinning ethos of working in a strengths based way which necessarily involves working with and building on community assets and adopting community development principles. In this report we explore the learning from this approach.
Test and learn has been a corner stone of the Ageing Better programme. In this report we take the opportunity to reflect on what test and learn has meant practically within Ageing Better as well as what it has involved and brought to the programme as a whole. We then look to highlight some key messages and ways to enable other organisations and funders to use this learning to work in a similar way.
In most Ageing Better partnerships, a third sector lead acted as a commissioner of services to address social isolation and loneliness. For most, this was a new way of working providing the people and organisations involved a greater insight into some of the realities and challenges of commissioning. This included an understanding of some of the difficult decisions that have to be made, the balancing of different priorities and the challenge of being committed to an issue (social isolation) but not necessarily to a single project or provider.
Across Ageing Better, Age Friendly has become an increasingly important area of work. Age Friendly has the potential to be a local vehicle for retaining the engagement of older people as well as for holding and sharing the knowledge and learning which Ageing Better has developed.
This toolkit provides information on how you can create a learning culture in your organisation and tips and ideas from Ageing Better about how to do this. Ageing Better set out to be a Test and Learn programme - capturing not just what worked but also learning from what didn’t.
This report written in Feb 20 aims to identify key messages around the organisation and set up of the Ageing Better Programme reflecting on how Ageing Better has developed and evolved over the duration (to date) of its delivery.
As we went into lockdown, we wrote a short paper with our ideas on the impact of Covid-19 based on 5 years learning from Ageing Better, the cessation of face-to-face methods of delivery and move to that of telephone and online and implications as we all experienced some form of “social isolation”. During the lockdown we began collecting in-time thematic learning resulting in our two reports on Telephone Befriending and Bridging the Digital Divide. As restrictions lifted during the summer 2020 nationally we experienced an important transition point.
Covid-19 is an unprecedented situation affecting the lives of people across the globe, which is particularly impacting on older and more vulnerable people. We have learned a lot about the impact of and ways of reducing social isolation and loneliness in people aged over 50 during the five years of the Ageing Better Programme to date. There is much about the crisis that feels out of control but as more people are asked or decide to retreat behind physical doors, this short paper aims to share some insights and learning from Ageing Better.