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BSG Scotland
Professor Claire Ballinger
Dr Anthea Innes
Corinne Adams
On 7th November 2008 the sixth BSG Scotland members’ event took place in the Colin Bell Building, University of Stirling. This was an informal half day event for BSG members and guests whom we hope to recruit to BSG. The 16 participants were practitioners and academics, from Fife Council; NHS Health Scotland; NHS Ayrshire and Arran; Glasgow Caledonian University; Queen Margaret University; and University of Stirling. They included two postgraduate students. After an enjoyable lunch and networking time, the afternoon session was chaired by BSG Scotland organising group member Dr. Louise McCabe from University of Stirling. Louise introduced the session with information about BSG Scotland and current news on gerontology at the University of Stirling, including the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC). BSG member Alison Bowes was congratulated on her recent appointment to the Chair in Dementia Research.

Professor Claire Ballinger, Glasgow Caledonian University, spoke on: Older people’s experiences of falls services, drawing on findings from a national study. Falls were presented by government as an increasing burden for the NHS because of the consequences of hip fracture. Audits of falls services by the Royal College of Physicians showed that patient involvement had been low. The national study, funded by the Health Care Commission, aimed to elicit information about the views and experiences of patients to help develop recommendations to support falls services providers. Nine focus groups were held with a total of 40 participants representing 10 areas in England. The study found that participants were unaware of falls services and how to access them. A range of interventions were implemented at the services and patients gave generally positive feedback on them, although the findings of the assessment were not always shared with patients. Participants identified a range of causes of falls, including a loss of concentration. They perceived falls services as generally a positive experience, with thorough assessment an added advantage, and wished to continue with the services. The study concluded that people valued the chance to share their experiences in a friendly environment. Practical recommendations were made to improve access for patients and to address issues they had raised.

Dr Anthea Innes, University of Stirling, gave a presentation on Growing older in Malta. She outlined retirement migration literature, which focused on the impact on host communities; reasons for migrating; and experiences of ageing out of place. Anthea carried out 16 in-depth interviews with British migrants in Malta, addressing three research questions: Why was Malta chosen as a retirement destination? What are the perceived positive and negative aspects of growing older in Malta? To what extent do UK citizens growing older in Malta perceive themselves to have integrated into local communities? Participants’ main rationales for choosing Malta were familiarity with the country; and leisure-lifestyle migration. Push factors were immigration policies in the UK; fear of crime; and high taxes. Pull factors were the friendly host community, low taxes; climate; proximity to and similarities with the UK. Negative impressions focused on migrants from Africa and environmental concerns. The British migrants had friends and acquaintances among the Maltese community as well as socialising with other British migrants. They maintained contact with their place of origin by phone, email and visits to and from the UK. They seemed well integrated and had no plans to return to the UK. Future policy implications concerned health care, since there was little community based care in Malta.

Corinne Adams, University of Stirling, spoke on her PhD research: Older people and work activities in Scotland. The strategy document All Our Futures believes that older people want to continue in paid work. It recognises that older people play an important role in other activities such as care, childcare and volunteering. Corinne argues that these other activities should be considered as a valid form of work, and that work activities extend beyond paid employment. Her research addresses the questions: What work activities are undertaken by older people in Scotland, what interrelations exist between these activities and why? What value/meanings do older people have in relation to these activities and the interrelations between them? How are these meanings and values constructed? Corinne’s approach will include interviews with around 30 people aged over 50 years, and memory-work with 6-8 groups of 4-5 people aged over 50 years. The memory-work method takes a social constructionist approach. Corinne will facilitate the discussions but the nature of discussion will vary between groups. The aim is to identify common understandings in relation to work activity and to identify factors that might shape participants’ understandings. As Corinne was due to start her fieldwork within the next two months, the discussion included practical suggestions for recruiting interviewees and conducting the groups.

In the concluding session, participants gave positive feedback on the format and content of the event and the interesting range of topics covered by the speakers. In 2009 there will be further BSG Scotland members’ events in the Spring and Autumn.

For further information about BSG Scotland, please visit the webpage:

http://www.britishgerontology.org/index.asp?PageID=18.

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