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Rebekah Luff

This year’s BSG annual conference, held jointly at the University of the West of England and University of Bristol, was both incredibly valuable and hugely enjoyable. This year I found myself in the ‘funding wilderness’ between my PhD funding ending and starting a new job, so was extremely grateful for the bursary which allowed me to attend this important conference and share some of my thesis findings. This was my 4 th BSG conference and every year it has been essential both for networking and for providing motivation and encouragement throughout my PhD.

The conference opened with Alexandre Kalache’s inspirational plenary on Ageing Worldwide. Alexandre not only discussed the issues of ageing and life expectancy around the globe but also threw down the gauntlet to the BSG members as to how we might be able to support research and researchers in other parts of the world.

My own research interests relate to the care of older people, and my PhD explores the emotion work undertaken by care staff working in care homes for older people. Over the four years I have attended the BSG conference, the numbers of researchers interested in care homes has continued to grow, and this year did not disappoint. A wide variety of papers including those relating to staff, training, sleep in care homes, dementia care and inspection processes were presented as well as more general papers that strongly relate to care homes such as ageing ethnic minorities, incontinence and hospital discharge. The range of research methods and also the challenges of research within care homes and in the community, provided opportunities for discussion and reflection. My own presentation on the use of empathy by care assistants went well, and I had the opportunity to speak to several people afterwards. The BSG is a friendly conference at which to present and feedback and questions have proved both interesting and valuable. On Friday lunch time the National Care Homes Research and Development forum (NCHR&D) met allowing those with specific interest in care homes to get together and to join this active and supportive research community.

The BSG is also a great opportunity to see presentations on a wide variety of issues outside my specific research area. This year I also attended some of the presentations relating to pensions, including a paper by Elsie Richardson, and her colleagues from the North East Older Peoples Advisory Group paper titled ‘Do we eat or do we heat’. This was the first research paper I have seen by older people, about issues that concern them, and it highlighted the daily struggle for some UK pensioners.

The social events this year were very enjoyable, the Boil and Bubble Theatre Group provided after dinner entertainment on Thursday evening. On Friday, we all enjoyed the gala meal at the fine surroundings of the Victoria Rooms. The highlight of the evening for myself and no doubt for many others, was Tony Benn’s insightful and humorous after dinner speech. In-between the food and entertainment was the opportunity to make new friends and to catch up with friends and colleagues. As a PhD student or ‘emerging researcher’ the advice of established researchers and also support from other students is always valued, and the BSG is both open and friendly in that respect.

Finally, I would like to thank Kate Davidson, not only for all her work over the past years as President of the BSG, but particularly for giving newcomers and PhD students such a warm welcome.

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