#COT2017 S11.RCOTSS Older People Keynote: Enabling a healthy and active older age.


IMG_0292This keynote was given by Anna Dixon, Chief Executive The Centre for Ageing Better. Anna, who is Director of Strategy and Chief Strategist, started by outlining the mission and priorities of the Centre. If you are unfamiliar with their work it is well worth exploring the above link to find out more.

The key focus of the Centre is to work for a society where everyone enjoys a good later life. I loved the focus of being part of a network of ‘What Works Organisations’ with a dual focus on evidence informed practice and innovation.

During her presentation Anna explored 3 key statements they want more people to say:

  • ‘I feel prepared for later life’
    • feeling confident in managing major life change
    • making plans for later life
    • having the necessary skills
  • ‘I am active and connected’
    • either being in fulfilling work or making  contribution to your community
    • having regular social contact
    • keeping physically and mentally healthy
  • ‘I feel in control’
    • living in suitable housing
    • having appropriate care and support.

These statements I am sure are close to the hearts of occupational therapists.

The Centre worked with Ipsos MORI to undertake research into people’s well-being in later life. An executive summary of the report can be found here. This research identified 3 key dimensions of a good later life: health, financial security and  social connections. E

In case you are wondering what we mean by health ageing you may want to explore this WHO report: World Report on Ageing and Health. 

Anna went on to explore 2 aspects of the Centre’s work

1. Keeping Physically Active (with a focus on strength and balance)

Some of the facts shared were

  • From the age of 40 adults lose 8% of their muscle mass per decade
  • More than 1 in 5 (21%) of all adults over the age of 85 suffer from sarcopenia.
  • Every year, almost one third of older adults fall (30% of those aged 65 and over and 50% of those aged 80 and over)
  • Falls and fractures in people aged 65 and over account for over 4 million hospital bed days each year in England
  • The healthcare costs associated with fragility fractures is estimated at £2 billion per year.
  • Once someone has fractured a bone, only 24% of people return to their previous level of movement and independence

In relation to this area the Centre is working with a range of organisations to increase awareness and uptake of strength and balance activity and the Public Health England Falls and Fracture Consensus Statement was highlighted.

The Centre is also undertaking a review of the evidence on the health benefits of strength and balance exercise, the type and extent of activity that makes the most difference, and what are the key barriers and enablers. To highlight this Anna showed a video of the role of exercise in reducing falls.

2. Suitable Housing and Neighbourhoods

Some key points

  • By 2037 there are projected to be 1.42 million more households headed by someone over 85
  • 80% of homeowners aged 65 and over wish to stay where they are
  • People aged 85 and over spend an average of *80% of their time at home
  • home adaptations gave been shown to improve the quality of 90% of recipients

In exploring this topic Anna highlighted

  • the need to improve the aesthetics of assistive technologies
  • the shortage of accessible homes
  • the standard of ‘visitable’ in the building regs as a default as being inadequate

Anna concluded by highlighting that the Centre has commissioned the University of the West of England and the Building Research Establishment to undertake a review of the evidence into how home adaptations can contribute to a good later life.

They are commissioning research to gather evidence from practitioners who carry out assessments for home adaptations as well as people who have adapted their homes.


For all OTs there is also a call to practice to better understand the processes through which people receive funding for home adaptations, particularly through the Disabled Facilities Grant.

The slides from this presentation have been uploaded to slideshare if you want to explore further.

Written by @lynnegoodacre


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