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Plenary Speakers

Professor Gill Windle

Gill is a gerontologist working across disciplinary boundaries, and as Professor of Ageing and Dementia Research she leads the Ageing and Dementia Research Centre in the School of Health Sciences at Bangor University, Wales. Gill is also Associate Director of the Wales Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research (CADR), a collaboration with Cardiff and Swansea Universities, funded by the Welsh Government. Gill's work explores and critically reflects on how to support older people to meet policy aspirations to ‘live well’ despite health problems and cognitive impairment, and provide evidence to improve care and services. She has a special interest in health, well-being and resilience in later life, and some of her current work considers what it means to be resilient when facing one of life’s biggest challenges – dementia.  Gill has a special interest in the benefits of activity, whether that is social, creative or exercise, and recently led a large arts and science collaboration ‘Dementia and Imagination’.

Keynote Lecture - Resilience in later life: metaphor and myth or real and measureable?

14:00 – 15:30, Wednesday 10th July

Lecture Theatre A, Central Teaching Hub

The 21st Century has seen the concept of resilience as applied to later life becoming increasingly well-established in research, policy and practice. This conference provides a timely point to revisit my earlier work, and that of others, and critically engage in debate and discussion about resilience. I will discuss how proponents of the concept argue resilience research challenges stereotypical images of ageing, an important consideration in societies faced by ageism and discrimination.  Resilience research shows how some people are able to ‘beat the odds’ and do well despite major adversities such as ill-health, providing insights into adjustment processes that might be useful for others.  The concept has huge appeal. Counter to this, however, are criticisms of resilience. This paper will consider the argument that resilience is a ‘slippery concept’, a representation of the complex relationships between the individual and their environment, fraught with difficulties around definition and measurement. I will discuss the interpretations (and misinterpretations) of resilience by governments and services, where increasing public health messages emphasise the individual to take charge and be in control, that we can somehow build superhuman people that will withstand all manner of difficulties, and so allow the state to step back from its’ duty of care. No doubt many of you will be familiar with ‘resilience building’ workshops. I will endeavour to offer some suggestions to counter some of the challenges we face as researchers and practitioners, albeit these are still open for debate.

Professor Frank Oswald

Professor Frank Oswald, PhD is Professor for Interdisciplinary Ageing Research (IAW), Vice Dean of the faculty of Educational Sciences and Chair of the Frankfurt Forum for interdisciplinary Ageing Research (FFIA) at the Goethe University, Germany as well as Director of the “Center Aging“ for Early Career Researcher at the Goethe Graduate Academy (GRADE). He is a psychologist by training and author / co-author of several articles in the area of Gerontology and Psychology. His research interests are contexts of adult development, issues of person-environment transaction and transitions in old age, housing, ageing in place, relocation and the role of technologies in later life.

Keynote Lecture – Living Well in Local Communities – Remarks from an Environmental Gerontology Perspective

13:30 – 14:30, Thursday 11th July, Lecture Theatre A, Central Teaching Hub

The field of Environmental Gerontology has gained attention in gerontology as a whole since the 1960s and particularly witnessed new theoretical developments in the last two decades. Thus, the first aim of this presentation is to give a brief overview of how the area has evolved on a conceptual (and methodological) level. Most recently, advancements in the applied field of age-friendly community development, as well as challenges of aging in place associated with diverse contexts, political environments and marginal populations demand new perspectives of interdisciplinary concepts and empirical findings. Therefore, the second aim is to provide empirical substance (mainly from own studies) to support the usefulness of Environmental Gerontology perspectives. Finally a set of recommendations for future research and the applied field are discussed.

Professor Chris Todd

Chris is Professor of Primary Care and Community Health in the School of Health Sciences, University of Manchester. From January 2019 he will be the Director of the NIHR Policy Research Unit on Older People and Frailty. Chris moved to Manchester in 2001 and has some 30 years research experience. He got his BA, MA and PhD in Psychology at Durham University and held post-doc research posts in Northern Ireland and Cambridge. From 1993-2001 he was Director of Health Services Research Group at the Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. He is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Chris has a portfolio of research funding from UK funders (NIHR, Research Councils and Charities) and the European Commission.

Keynote Lecture - Evidence based policy development: The NIHR Older People and Frailty Policy Research Unit

11:00 – 12:00, Friday 12th July, Lecture Theatre A, Central Teaching Hub

The National Institute for Health Research Older People and Frailty Policy Research Unit (PRU) came into being in January 2019. The PRU is a collaboration between the University of Manchester, Newcastle University and London School of Economics. The PRU helps the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) understand and plan for the future health and care needs of the older population and people living with frailty. The aim is to produce high-quality research-based evidence that answers policymakers’ questions and supports DHSC to make informed decisions. Our work includes how to promote healthy ageing, the future needs of older people, and ways of providing high-quality care at affordable prices.  To do this the PRU has negotiated a programme of work with DHSC for the coming years, and also undertakes more rapid turn-around responsive work for key and urgent questions.The PRU uses a range of methods so as to be timely, scientifically robust, and taking account of patient and public views. We focus on:

i)             Evidence synthesis (bringing together findings from existing research)

ii)            Big data analysis (analyses of existing datasets that include large numbers of people or organisations)

iii)           Listening to the voices of stakeholders, and research that includes the experiences of service users, carers and the public.

This presentation outlines the development and work of the PRU over its first six months and describes the core programme of work. This includes work (i) looking at single and multiple chronic conditions and time trends in later-life disability; (ii) using national data on individual and neighbourhood profiles and trends to understand frailty; (iii) reviews of evidence in a number of priority areas including:  digital inclusion/exclusion; end-of-life care, loneliness, and frailty progression.