Health inequalities in older people: a plan for action


Project period: August – October 2017

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Dr Nikki Coghill and Dr Jessica Francombe-Webb
University of Bristol: Dr Demi Patsios
Cardiff University: Professor Shantini Paranjothy
University of Exeter: Professor Katrina Wyatt

Project overview

The focus of this project is to identify new approaches and ways of addressing inequalities in health among older people living in low income / economically disadvantaged communities. We propose to create a network of expertise (academic, professional, local) ready to respond to this grand challenge using innovative ‘bottom up’ participatory approaches including visual methodologies.

In England, those living in the poorest communities, on average, die seven years earlier. Determinants of deprivation include: accessibility to primary, secondary, community and preventative care and food. With an increasingly ageing population, older people living in deprived communities have reduced access to these services, compromising their health and social-care, often exacerbated in areas of conflict, political and social unrest.

Public Health and Primary Care often adopt top-down approaches, identifying behaviours or individuals as ‘problems’ and developing programmes to target the behaviours or individuals. This can result in programmes that widen rather than reduce inequalities. Our proposed sandpit supports an evidence-based, bottom-up, community engagement approach, supporting communities to identify barriers to their health and wellbeing.

Our expertise, the urban-rural disparity across GW4 and our global partners uniquely places us to address the ‘Health, demographic change and wellbeing’ grand challenge and contribute to the GW4 priority areas ‘Inclusive innovative and reflective societies, and ‘Social Justice, Inequality, local and global.’ We will work with research partners in Colombia and Namibia to develop transferable adaptive processes and approaches for these developing countries and the welfare of their older populations.

The funding, and resulting partnerships, will enable the development of participatory community-driven projects, well-placed to leverage future funding from e.g.: Leverhulme trust (Research Projects Grants), Nuffield foundation (Grants for Research and Innovation Projects) or NIHR (Public Research Programme) enabling the generation of evidence-based practice.