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Researching Age-friendly Cities: Stories from older people as co-investigators

This guide evaluates the participatory dimension of a study that explored the age-friendliness of three wards in the city of Manchester. The purpose of the study was to examine opportunities and constraints for older people living in urban environments with a view to improving their experience of living in the city.

In this project older people both participated in the research and were themselves the researchers. Through collaborative work with community organisations, a diverse group of 18 older residents were trained to become co-investigators in the project. They played a key role in identifying for the study 68 older people experiencing varying degrees of poverty and social isolation. The older researchers then helped shape the questions for the research, carried out the interviews and analysed the data.

The guide provides insights into the experiences of older people as they step beyond the traditional role of consultee to that of interviewer and researcher. It recognizes the centrality of older people as active citizens in the age-friendly approach and gives a unique voice to many of the most excluded older people in Manchester.

The guide was edited by Dr. Tine Buffel and has been produced in partnership with the Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing, Age UK, Age-Friendly Manchester and the Office of Social Responsibility at the University of Manchester.

“The guide is a must-read for anyone connected to the age-friendly movement, showing what can be achieved when ‘ordinary’ citizens become involved in research that can lead to social change” (Professor Thomas Scharf, Director, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway, Ireland)

Researching Age-Friendly Communities (2015)