Involving older people in research: empowering engagement?

Lizzie Ward and Beatrice Gahagan

in Critical Perspectives on User Involvement

Published by Policy Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9781847427519
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447305590 | DOI:
Involving older people in research: empowering engagement?

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Over recent years the drive to give older people ‘a voice’ has gained momentum. Involving older people in the design, delivery, commissioning and monitoring of services is now part of UK government policy. Part of the government's response to demographic change and an increasingly ageing population has seen the introduction of the UK Advisory Forum on Ageing, with regional forums to help local authorities develop effective engagement strategies. The greater involvement of older people has been expressed in terms of equity and empowerment, and research has been seen as one way of ‘empowering’ older people. This chapter reflects on the authors' experiences (one as a community partner, the other as an academic researcher) of working together on research with older people. It explores how the authors of this chapter have tried to address the tensions between the social outcomes of enabling older people to be actively involved and their own research agendas, negotiating how they use older people's experiential knowledge in non-exploitative ways and trying to ensure the research has an impact yet still genuinely involving everyone who takes part.

Keywords: older people; collaborative partnership; research relationships; knowledge production; ethic of care

Chapter.  3308 words. 

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