HSCWRU researchers enjoyed two and a half days of stimulating presentations, symposia and keynote speeches at the British Society of Gerontology’s (BSG) 2019 Annual Conference held this year in Liverpool. The 48th BSG annual conference was entitled Resilience and Living Well in Local Communities and took place from 10 to 12th July at the University of Liverpool.
Keynote speakers presented on each day. Professor Gill Windle from Bangor University kicked off the conference with a discussion about resilience in later life – and the uses and abuses of this myth/metaphor/or measure. Professor Frank Oswald from Goethe University in Germany discussed environmental gerontological perspectives and the types of research studies that arise from these approaches. Professor Chris Todd, joint lead of the NIHR Policy Research Unit – Older People and Frailty, discussed his aim of using an ‘equality lens’ in the setting up and undertaking of work in this recently formed team together with Newcastle University and the London School of Economics.
HSCWRU members presented work from a range of our current and recently completed studies. Caroline Norrie reported on a scoping review of the potential for people with criminal records to work in social care – current practice and potential for recruitment. Laura Cole discussed emerging findings from the NIHR School for Social Care Research (SSCR) funded ‘Optimal Time’ study, which explored whether there is a ‘best’ or ‘optimal’ time for a person with dementia to move to a care home. John Woolham’s presentation on Personal Assistants was particularly well-received with the audience demanding to know more about the working conditions and terms of employment of this small but growing segment of the social care workforce. Katharine Orellana discussed findings from an Abbeyfield Research Foundation study about handovers in care homes and demonstrated how respectful care staff and resident encounters (or lack thereof) impact on residents’ dignity, wellbeing and privacy. Unit PhD student Peter Simcock’s talk was about involving deafblind people in qualitative research and described the benefits and challenges of working with visual and tactile British Sign Language interpreters. On the final day, Nicole Steils outlined findings from a NIHR SSCR study of local authority provision of assistive technology and telecare for older people and Jill Manthorpe reported findings from the Unit’s review of the potential for people from an armed services background to work in social care for older people.
The Unit was also involved in the presentation by Dr Rachael Frost on the PriDem study, an Alzheimer’s Society-funded project developing and evaluating primary care-led models of good post-diagnostic care for people with dementia and their carers, as Jill Manthorpe is a co-investigator on this study. Also drawing on Unit work as part of the Care Act and Carers Evaluation project was Wenjing Zhang’s review of local authority websites’ approaches to posting information and guidance for unpaid family carers. Since the Care Act 2014, local authorities have new duties to carers and they are required to recognise and respond to carers’ specific requirements for information and advice. Wenjing discussed how in practice local authorities need to manage public demand and expectations for services and one way of doing this was via their website content. HSCWRU members Jo Moriarty and Nicole Steils contributed to this presentation.
Symposia at the BSG this year included a range of topics such as loneliness in later life, the arts, leisure and consumption, financial and pension planning, transitions in later life and social inequalities. The symposium on information sharing in care homes was very relevant to HSCWRU’s work on handovers in care homes.
An unexpected highlight for the seven-member HSCWRU team was the last-minute venue change of the Thursday night Conference Dinner which moved from a university building to Liverpool Football Club. Conference delegates were treated to a champagne reception at Anfield stadium in a stunning function room where one side overlooked the famed football pitch, and the other offered views of the sun slowly setting on the Mersey. Once the meal was completed, delegates were serenaded by an authentic Beatles Tribute Band and several joined in the dancing/jiving.
The team is now looking forward to the BSG 2020 which is to be held in Bristol – this year’s memorable entertainment may however prove hard to match for organisers!