Aine Ni Leime Presentation

Inclusive communities: opportunities and challenges in older age:
Participating in social and creative programmes for older people.
Dr. Áine Ní Léime,
Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway.
Active Ageing, Creative Ageing and quality of life.
Active Ageing :
‘The process of optimising opportunities for
health, participation and security in order
to enhance quality of life as people age’
(WHO, 2002)
WHO recommends that the state and NGO’s
should provide such opportunities
23 October, 2013
Why participate in social/leisure activities?
Social activities:
• Enhances quality of life, delays cognitive decline.
Physical activities:
• Help prevent diseases; reduce depression; combats memory
Cultural activities:
• Enhances self-esteem; sense of mastery/ control
23 October, 2013
Active Ageing: the challenges
• Problematising ‘active ageing’: are some people excluded? Is it accessible for
all groups ?
• Whose responsibility is it to maximise participation?
– Individual, NGO’s , the state?
• Why is it important?
– Demographic ageing
– Decline of traditional opportunities for continued participation
• farming, church, shops, pubs, particularly in rural areas
23 October, 2013
What is Active Retirement Ireland? (ARI)
• 550 Active Retirement Associations (ARAs)
• 23,000 members (est.)
• 27 years - as yet no assessment of impact
• European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between the Generations,
• Aim: To encourage members to maintain their independence and to
participate in social contacts and self-help activities of a cultural,
educational and sporting nature aimed at enhancing quality of life
23 October, 2013
Aim of research
motivations for joining
impact of membership of an ARA on the quality of life (QoL) of its
Impact on community
Identify barriers to joining an ARA.
Implications for policy?
Implications for research
23rd October, 2013
Mixed methods evaluation
Self-completion questionnaire posted to:
– all 541 chairpersons of ARAs
– 341 surveys to members
Focus groups: Five (6-8 members)
Interviews with:
20 members and 8 non-members
23 October, 2013
Research findings
• Response rate:
– chairpersons’ survey: 50% (270/541)
– members’ survey: 62% (210/341)
• All respondents: 77% female, 23% male
• Committee members : 76% female, 25% male
• Members: 79% female, 21% male
23 October, 2013
Motivations: life transitions
‘I was widowed and was feeling a bit lost and lonely and I felt that this (ARA) could suit me’
Retirement; loss of social networks:
‘When I worked, I was always involved with large groups of people I had lots of contacts. I
didn’t realise when I retired I had lost that’
Returning to an area: ‘Well, I came back from England having been there for 43 years and
came back close to where I came from, but of course people had moved on and I had lost
contact to a great extent ... and I went (to an ARA) and it was a great way of getting back
into the community and getting to know people’
23rd October, 2013
Types of activities
Physical Activities: swimming; walking; Go-for Life; bowls; other (61%-27%).
Social activities: tea-dances; short holidays; day tours; coffee mornings (9675%).
Cultural activities: theatre; Bealtaine; museums; other, opera
Educational activities:
Information; guest speakers; other; arts and crafts; PC and mobile phone
training (83 % - 27%)
23rd October, 2013
Quality of Life (CASP-19 scale)
• The average QoL score for the group is 46.5
• Males: 46
• Females: 44
• TILDA 42.7; ELSA 42.5
Score lower than 19 indicates absence of QoL
Maximum Score Achievable is 57
Conclusion: respondents have good QoL
23rd October, 2013
• Average loneliness score:
– ARI study =1.47: TILDA = 2 (Timonen et al., 2011)
Members = 1.73; ACM = 1.37
• ‘For me, the quality of life it’s given me from loneliness to not
having time to bless myself now in this organisation. It’s just
made me very, very active and aware.’
– [Source: Female ARA member Focus group]
23rd October, 2013
Challenges: Barriers to joining
– “for older people – I’m not drooling yet , you know”
– For women.
Difficult to access for people with less mobility
Lack of transport in rural areas
Shyness – difficult to take the initial step.
Those without networks excluded , unless targeted
They recommend “the personal ask”, transport etc
23rd October, 2013
Participating in the Bealtaine arts festival:
What is Bealtaine?
• Annual national month-long festival that celebrates creativity in older age
• Includes several art forms:
– dance, literature, visual arts, theatre, film, music
• Involves multiple agencies:
– local authorities, national cultural institutions, libraries, HSE, active
retirement and community groups, regional arts centres
• co-ordinated by Age and Opportunity. Annual theme
23 October, 2013
Music, Dance, Opening ceremony
23rd October, 2013
ICSG evaluation of Bealtaine
• Assess impact of Bealtaine:
– on older participants
• well-being and social gain for older people
• involvement in the community
• solidarity among older people
• 26 counties; over 100,000 people, over 450 organisations
23rdh October, 2013
Impact on participants
• Findings – according to participants
– Bealtaine improves well-being, psychological outlook, self-esteem
– creates social connections and enhances social relationships (95%)
– facilitates personal development – skills etc. (89%)
– engagement in community (87%)
– facilitates self-expression (87%)
– improved my quality of life (86%)
23rd October, 2013
Impact on participants
• Personal development :
– “You learn a lot ... when I started I knew practically nothing about
modern art … it gives you an open mind, that you take a thing in …
you look and examine”
(visual arts programme participant)
• Self-expression :
– “I have to say I have found my voice since joining in this group”
(member of writer’s group)
Impact on participants and communities
social cohesion
– “It has broken down the walls of the hospital and it has involved everyone,
especially the community..
(Bealtaine organiser in a hospital)
engagement with the community
– “I’m out and about more and meeting people. I’m also becoming more aware
of people and their needs”
(member of Active Retirement Association)
– “I’m aware of what’s going on in the community”
23rd October, 2013
Social impacts for participants
Social networking:
– “I have formed a big circle of friends who are interested in similar activities”
(member of writer’s group)
Quality of life:
– “It gave me a new lease of life. I’m a widow and I live alone. It’s marvellous
to have something to get out for – to get involved in and then to forget your
pains and aches and get completely immersed in the whole thing”
(inter-generational programme in drama)
23rd October, 2013
Enhances role of older people in community
Inter-generational programmes; getting to know younger people in area for
first time; advising; passing on skills.
Local identity
Setting up their own writer’s groups in their own communities
Knock-on effects: people have gone on to join community groups and be
involved in fund-raising
Groups who were isolated:
e.g. people in residential centres
have opened up to the community
23rd October, 2013
Opportunities: Participating in creative programmes like Bealtaine and social
groups like ARI is very beneficial:
– for mental and physical well-being of participants
– encourages older people to become involved in other community activities
Challenges for inclusivity:
– State should support such participation.
– Need to target hard to reach groups:
• men; older people; those without transport, impaired mobility
23rdh October, 2013
Theme for Bealtaine 2007: “Forever Begin”
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending,
That always seems about to give in,
Something that will not acknowledge conclusion,
Insists that we forever begin.
(from “Begin” by Brendan Kennelly)
23rd October, 2013