Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors
I'DGO TOO is the second phase of research by Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors (I'DGO), a research project focused on identifying the most effective ways of shaping outdoor environments inclusively. I'DGO TOO ran from 2007-2012, and involved over 3,580 senior participants.
Commited to improving the quality of life of older people by helping create easy, enjoyable, walkable access to outdoor urban environments for people of all abilities, I'DGO One (2003-2006) established why getting outdoors matters to older people and what barriers prevent them from getting out and about, day-to-day. In I’DGO TOO, focus was given to aspects of placemaking which had been gaining currency in policy and practice but which had not yet been tested for age-friendliness.
Promoting mental health among older people by offering social contact and activities
The Brighter Futures project was developed and informed by a 4 year programme of work which provided evidence on mental health in later life. An Initial inquiry based research project was undertaken in partnership with Age Concern (now Age UK) and more recently in 2007-2009 service improvement activities were undertaken in partnership with NHS Health Scotland and the large number of key stakeholders forming NHS Health Scotland's later life steering group.
These activities included work with 15 Community Health Partnerships. This work directly engaged upwards of 1,000 older people in Scotland and provided further understanding of the key issues effecting mental health in later life. Consistent themes that emerged were:
- Age discrimination
- Physical health and mobility
- Lack of meaningful opportunities to make an active contribution to society.
This work has sat alongside and complemented the strategic work of NHS Health Scotland and the Scottish government on developments such as ';All our Futures', ';Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland' and the EU Healthy Ageing Strategy. During these activities it became apparent that there were large numbers of older people who were missing from these discussions and were therefore unable to have their voices heard, older people who are living their lives trapped in their own homes with little or no social support networks or links to the wider community. This significant gap has framed the development of Brighter Futures and informed the approach of peer mentoring.
In developing solutions to these challenges older people told us that it was important to take account of the contribution they could make as well as their potential support needs. In shaping Brighter Futures we felt that it was vital that we acknowledged that although there is much to do in relation to designing effective services for older people, there is also a steadily increasing number of older people, mainly retired from paid work, who are able to contribute actively to society - a strength not a ';burden'.
The principle aim of Brighter Futures has therefore been to work with older people to deliver a peer mentoring service aimed at improving the wellbeing and the quality of lives of more isolated older people through enhancing their social networks and enabling meaningful community engagement.
- A peer mentoring approach was developed that met the specific needs of isolated older people supported by membership of the Scottish Mentoring Network.
- Engagement activities were undertaken with over 500 organisations across 3 sites, developing project recognition, establishing referral routes and raising awareness of mental health in later life. Including: Trade Unions, Professional bodies, Job Centre Plus, volunteer centres, Pre-retirement council, Scottish Mentoring Network, Social Work Teams, NHS teams, GPs, Churches, local authority groups and organisations.
- A wide range of local events were held helping to address low aspirations amongst older people and age discrimination within communities alongside engaging older people and communities as active partners in the project.
- A national reference group was established and a local reference support structure developed in each local site to engage key stakeholders to act as expert advisors to the project.
- A learning network was developed and facilitated bringing together the 3 delivery sites enabling them to share learning throughout the life of the project.
- 78 older people were recruited and trained as volunteer peer mentors. 69 went on to actively support older people as mentors.
- 11 participatory training programmes were facilitated across the 3 sites.
- 96 participants were provided with a peer mentoring service and supported to engage with a wide range of community resources including universities, arts groups, lunch clubs, bowling clubs, church and faith community groups, slimming classes, exercise classes, book clubs, library events, community theatre groups, music sessions and community café’s.
- Group activities were established within all 3 areas in year 2 providing supportive community based activities for older people with higher levels of support needs. Group sessions were imbedded within a wide range of existing community resources and have increased the visibility of older people: addressing age discrimination and supporting the development of intergenerational understanding.
- Progress exceeded original target with 96 older people receiving a support service and a further 20 people receiving support within a group setting.
'Coping with dementia: a practical DVD for carers' is a resource to help carers learn from other carers' experiences. It provides practical suggestions, including advice on challenging behaviour, money, legal matters and bereavement.
In 2009 NHS Scotland, in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland, wanted to provide information on dementia to carers in an accessible format to complement an existing handbook ';Coping with dementia - A practical handbook for carers'. The handbook, though successful, lacked accessibility. It was agreed to produce a DVD to personalise and bring to life the book's subject matter and make it more accessible to Scotland's diverse population. A key feature of the DVD was that it was developed in collaboration with carers from a range of backgrounds, ethnic groups and ages.
Around 50,000 copies of the DVD have been disseminated to NHS Resource Libraries across Scotland, as well as the voluntary and statutory sectors. A formal evaluation of the effectiveness of the DVD has been undertaken, during which carers were positive about the DVD resource.
SCOPe provides a befriending service for people aged 60 and over who have experience of mental health problems, or who care for someone else who has a mental health problem. Through befriending and involvement in meaningful activity, social isolation is reduced and mental health and well-being are improved while increasing people's confidence.
SCOPe was set up July 2008 in collaboration the Glasgow Association for Mental Health (GAMH) and NHS Scotland, as a result of a needs assessment undertaken with older people and carers in Glasgow. One identified need was a service to address social isolation.
Initial outcomes reported forty ‘matches’ since the start of the project, with good feedback about increased self confidence, thereby enabling people to continue to make connections on their own. The project spread into other settings, with a highly successful pilot project in a hospital rehab ward in Glasgow.