The University of Bath and Guild Living have announced a major partnership researching solutions to healthy ageing, bringing together academics from multiple disciplines.
Guild Living, part of Legal & General, will use the findings to drive its decision making around architectural design, technology, wellbeing and care across its later living communities. The programme is being led by visiting University of Bath Professor Malcolm Johnson, who featured on Channel 4's Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds.
The partnership will aim to revolutionise the way people age, using research to design 'age-friendly' environments, communities and care programmes. The University of Bath states that it is dedicated to strategically tackling all issues related to ageing and ensuring its projects translate into tangible outcomes which can benefit wider society.
The first project by the partnership researching solutions to healthy ageing, which is currently underway, explores the causes and impact of emotional loneliness in older people living in Australia and Britain. Qualitative data is being sourced from individuals living in later life communities, drawing from interviews about people’s experiences of attachment, close relationships, loneliness and the transition to retirement community living.
The research aims to identify interventions and support which can improve health and independence, whilst significantly reducing social isolation.
Professor Malcolm Johnson explained, 'As a youth-oriented society, we need to recognise that people are living longer and, consequentially, “old age” is happening much later. The dominant feature of old age care is looking after people's health and safety, yet all too often, people are being left in their own homes and on their own, with minimal human contact.
This risks physical, emotional and cognitive decline. Our research will investigate what interventions we can make to reinstate people's confidence, tackle one of the biggest killers, loneliness, and shift our culture towards valuing – rather than ostracising – people in their older years.'
Eugene Marchese, Founder of Guild Living, said, 'With an ageing population and a growing social care crisis, Britain has an opportunity to embrace radical change – not just in housing or care – but how we treat older people.'
Professor Julie Barnett, Associate Dean (Research) in the University’s Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, who will be directly involved in research for this project, said, 'Creating environments and opportunities to enable more people to live as they want for longer is a shared ambition for many of our researchers across many disciplines at the University. We’re able to produce world-leading research and experts to tackle this challenge, but having good partnerships like Guild Living, with which we can exchange our knowledge and realise our ambition, we can ensure the results of our efforts not only benefit our city’s residents, but our region, nation and society as a whole.'